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Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1853, by 

James P. Walker, 

in the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District 01 Massachusetts. 



The reasons for publishing a new edition of this work are these : — 

1. The former edition has been out of print for some time, and repeated 
inquiries from various quarters have been made for the work. Its reception 
on its first publication in 1850, both on the part of the press as well as of 
the public, was far more favorable than the writer anticipated. The present 
edition is somewhat enlarged as well as improved, by introducing additional 
facts, and bringing down the statistics of the trade to the present time. 

2. A new interest upon the subject has lately sprung up from various 
causes, and some individuals distinguished as statesmen and merchants have 
generously offered to aid in the circulation of the work, for the purpose of 
enlightening the public both at home and abroad upon the great evils of 
the opium trade. 

3. The recent discoveries of immense quantities of gold in California and 
Australia, leading to very important changes in population and commerce 
in those portions of the world, must have a powerful effect upon the 
Chinese nation, and clothe with new interest everything affecting the wel- 
fare of that great people. 

4. An application for the renewal of the charter of the East India 
Company is soon to be made to Parliament, when the question whether 
the government of Great Britain will continue to carry on this iniquitous 
traffic must be met. In 1833, when the charter of this company was re- 
newed for twenty years, and the British government assumed its entire 
control in India, the Opium Question was then warmly contested by some 
of the ablest and best men in Parliament. Every person making the least 
pretensions to philanthropy or Christianity or even to common humanity, 
must feel a deep interest in the result of this question. 

The writer is preparing an article upon the abu%e of opiates in Great 
Britain and the United States, and would be greatly obliged to merchants, 
druo-cists or members of the medical profession who will communicate to 
his address (Dr. Nathan Allen, Lowell, Mass.) any facts bearing upon this 





Scarcely anything was known respecting China till the 
present centnry, and most of the knowledge which we now 
possess has been obtained within the last twenty-five years. 
As foreign intercourse continues to grow more frequent and 
unrestricted with this Empire, the world will undoubtedly 
become better and better acquainted with its history, and the 
character of its inhabitants. The recent settlements and great 
increase of trade on our Pacific shores, will open a more direct 
communication with China, and render whatever concerns 
that people far more interesting and important to our own 
country. The antiquity of that nation, tracing its history by 
a direct and connected series of events back almost to the 
creation of the world, its vast extent of territory and re- 
sources, its literature and its arts, its government and its 
immense population, estimated at 350,000,000, constitute ob- 
jects of exceedingly great interest. But passing by all these 
topics, we propose to examine a subject which vitally affects 
the interests of this great nation, viz., 


The amount of capital invested in this traffic, its present 
and prospective effects on human happiness, involving the 
welfare of nearly one half of the race, as well as the relations 
existing between the two greatest empires in the world, render 
the subject vastly important to the statesman, the philanthro- 

pist, and the Christian. China expends for the single article 
of opium, annually, nearly as much as the whole amount of 
the revenue of the United States, from all sources whatever, 
and a larger sum than any one nation on the globe pays to 
another for a single raw material, with the exception of what 
Great Britain pays to this country for cotton. The traffic is 
yet comparatively new, — has grown with unparalleled rapidity, 
and is almost unknown except to those personally concerned 
in it. And it is not for the interests of those engaged in it to 
make known either the nature or the extent of the trade, nor 
would it probably be deemed good policy by English travel- 
ers and residents in south-eastern Asia to expose its evils 
before the world. Besides, the materials for such an exposure 
are widely scattered, and difficult to obtain. 


Opium is a production of the plant Papaver Somniferum, 
and commonly called, in English, Poppy. The peculiar pro- 
perties of this vegetable were discovered at a very early age. 
Though it is not specifically mentioned by name in the Old 
Testament, yet there are good grounds to believe that the 
product or juice of the poppy constituted an important ele- 
ment of what is called in Scripture "Mixed wine." The art 
of distillation not being then known, it was customary to mix 
certain drugs, and aromatic gums, with their wines, in order 
to improve their flavor, and give them' more stimulating quali- 
ties. Homer and other Greek writers, who lived in the same 
century as David and Solomon, make frequent mention of the 
peculiar intoxicating properties of the poppy. It was also 
well known among the Romans. Virgil, Livy, Pliny, Ovid, 
and other authors, describe it as being used for various pur- 


The poppy was originally a native of Persia, but it may 
now be found growing as an ornamental plant in gardens 
throughout the civilized world. It is cultivated somewhat ex- 
tensively in Turkey, and most of the opium used for medical 
purposes in Europe and America is produced in that country. 

But India affords a far more extensive field for its cultivation. 
It is estimated that more than 100,000 acres of the rich plains 
of central India, as well as the alluvial valley of the Ganges, 
are now occupied for this purpose. Formerly these same 
grounds were used for the production of sugar, indigo, corn, 
and other grain, but these useful crops have yielded to the 
more profitable culture of the poppy. It appears that a mild 
climate, rich soil, plentiful irrigation, and diligent husbandry, 
are absolutely necessary for its successful cultivation. The 
crop is also very much dependent on the season, being easily 
injured by storms and winds, as well as seriously affected by 
the amount of moisture distilled in the form of dew. The 
Rev. James Peggs, an English missionary, having resided 
many years at Cuttack, a province in Orissa, India, gives the 
following account of the cultivation of the poppy, and the 
manufacture of its juice for market: — " In India, many thou- 
sands of men, women and children, are employed in poppy 
cultivation, which is, throughout, a simple process. The 
ground in the first place requires to be finely ploughed, and 
completely cleared of all weeds. The fields are then fenced 
in, and divided off into many squares, by means of small 
dikes, and thus the requisite amount of water is conveyed to 
every part of the plantation. The plant requires to be well 
weeded and irrigated even until it comes to maturity, as the 
cultivation is entirely carried on during the dry season. The 
seed is sown in November ; and during a period of about six 
weeks in February and March, the juice is collected. 


" The falling of the flowers from the plant is the signal for 
making incisions, which is done b£ the cultivators in the cool 
of the evening, with hooked knives, made for the purpose, in 
a circular manner around the capsules. From these incisions 
a white milky juice exudes, which is concreted into a dark 
brown mass by the heat of the next day's sun ; and this being 
scraped off every evening as the plant continues to exude, it 
constitutes opium in its crude state. 

" The great object of those in India who prepare opium for 
the China market, is, so to inspissate the crude juice as to 


leave a very hot-drawn, watery extract, which will, being 
dried, possess the greatest amount of purity and strength of 
flavor when smoked through a pipe. The Chinese, them- 
selves, estimate its value in direct proportion to the amount of 
these qualities. The process of inspissation is carried on in 
the cool shade, and care is observed in securing a proper jelly- 
like consistency, without grit or sourness, both of which are 
readily detected by the Chinese. When ready for market it 
has a smell peculiar to itself, heavy and not unpleasant, and 
possesses an adhesiveness which keeps it from dropping from 
the hand for some seconds, though the hand be in an inverted 
position. The Chinese carry it through another process of 
boiling before they use it. In smoking, they always lie 
down, and the ordinary kind of tobacco pipe is never used 
for opium. 

" The Bengal opium is made into balls about the size of 
the two fists, and covered over with a hard skin, made of the 
petals of the poppy, each ball having a separate apartment in 
the chest when sent off to market. The chest is made of 
mango-wood, and consists of two stories, each story contain- 
ing twenty balls. In other regions of India, it is made into 
cakes about the size of a single fist, and packed up in dried 
poppy leaves, having no separate apartments in the chest. 
For the sake of securing their contents, the chests are always 
covered over with hides, or coarse cloth. India produces about 
forty thousand chests of opium annually — the chests varying 
in weight from 125 to 140 pounds : the prices in China during 
the last three or four years fluctuating from $500 to $900 per 


Malwa, Benares and Behar (or Patna) are the principal 
localities in Bengal for its cultivation, and every chest of the 
drug exported from India bears one of their names, according 
to the part of the country where it was produced. The culti- 
vation of the poppy, as well as the manufacture and the 
traffic in opium, in the two last-named provinces, being both 
subject to the East India Company, is a strict monopoly 
of the government. For superintending and managing the 

business, there is an extensive and complicated system of 
government agency. Large sums of money are advanced to 
the ryots, or native cultivators, to meet in part the expense 
of cultivating the poppy ; and when the crop is come to ma- 
turity, and the juice is collected, it must all be delivered to 
government agents at a fixed price. As all engaged in its 
cultivation and manufacture, are paid for their services, the 
opium when prepared becomes the property of government. 

In Benares and Behar, the cultivation of this drug is not 
altogether a matter of choice, or interest, on the part of the 
native inhabitants, but such a combination of circumstances 
and influences are brought to bear upon them, as to amount 
almost to compulsion. In the Chinese Repository for Feb. 
1837, may be found an able article on this subject, with 
references to various works as authorities ; from this article, 
we make the following quotation : — " The lands under culti- 
vation are measured every year, and their boundaries fixed, in 
order to prevent collision among those to whom they are 
assigned. The government annually enters into an engage- 
ment with the cultivators, through an intermediate agency, 
constituted in the following manner: there is 1st, a collector, 
who is an European ; 2d, there are gomastahs, a superior class 
of men, (native,) both in education and caste; 3d, sudder 
mattus, a respectable class of landholders ; 4th, village mattus, 
the principal villagers, a little superior to the ryots ; 5th, the 
ryots, the chief laborers in the cultivation of the poppies. The 
'engagement' entered into with government is this: when 
the poppy is ripe and immediately before extracting the juice, 
the gomastah and his establishment make a circuit of the 
country, and form, ' by guess,' a probable estimate of the pro- 
duce of each field. He then makes the ryot enter into an 
engagement with him to deliver the quantity there estimated, 
and as much more as the field will yield, at the price previously 
fixed ; if he fails to deliver the estimated quantity, and the 
collector has reason to suppose he has embezzled the defi- 
ciency, he is empowered by law to prosecute the ryot in the 
civil court, for damages. And should an individual undertake 
the cultivation, without having entered into engagements with 
the government to deliver the produce at the fixed rate, his 


property would be immediately attached, and the ryot com- 
pelled either to destroy his poppies, or give security for the 
faithful delivery of the product." The truth of these facts 
has lately been confirmed by actual inquiry of persons who 
are officially connected with the government of India, and 
have long resided in the opium districts, and, therefore, are 
well acquainted personally with the whole subject. It affords 
another specimen of the enormous evils and abuses which 
spring from a system carried on by a large body of ill-paid 
native agents, each one of whom has a commission on the 
produce, and consequently an interest to increase that produce 
as much as possible. There is also a most oppressive system 
of espionage at the same time, established over the natives to 
prevent the cultivation of the poppy for private uses or sale. 

It is true the engagement is made only for one year, when 
the ryot may abandon its cultivation ; but then in case he does, 
he must remove at considerable sacrifice from the grounds, and 
perhaps from the village, with no reasonable prospect of im- 
proving his situation. Besides, these cultivators and such 
natives as are landholders, are, from policy, kept constantly in 
debt to the government agents, and thus become so dependent 
upon them as absolutely to be obliged to do their bidding. It 
is found that each chest of opium, obtained in this way, costs 
the government about 300 rupees. A small portion of it is 
sold in the interior provinces of India, for native use, but the 
greater part is transported down the river Ganges to Calcutta, 
where it is publicly sold on set market-days, by auction, to 
merchants who purchase and export it to China. Inasmuch 
as the price of opium varies with the season and demand, 
these sales frequently afford occasion for great speculation with 
merchants, the same as stocks, etc. in this country. The price 
at which it is sold varies somewhat with the quantity in the 
market and the demand for it, but generally brings from 1000 
to 1300 rupees, or on an average, more than three or four times 
as much as the first cost. The government thus receives an- 
nually an immense revenue from this source. In 1846, there 
were thus sold 21,649 chests, making a clear profit to the gov- 
ernment of over £2,000,000 sterling. In 1847, it is stated on 
good authority, that about 10,000 chests more were sold at 


Calcutta — that is, over 31,000 chests — which would increase 
the revenue to £3,000,000. And this includes a part only — 
perhaps two-thirds — of the opium raised in India, and, of 
course, not all the government revenue from this source. 

In Malwa, a province lying in the central part of India, the 
cultivation of the poppy and the manufacture of opium, are 
carried on under very different management. This province is 
subject in its government to native princes, and the cultivation 
of the soil is therefore entirely beyond the East India Com- 
pany's control. Here, the poppy is cultivated, and opium is 
manufactured as freely as rice and wheat are cultivated, with- 
out any restraint or interference on the part of government 
agents. The question with the farmers, therefore, is simply 
one of profit, whether they will raise a crop of the poppy, or 
of rice or wheat. Here opium is bought and sold in all the 
market-places, just as grain and other productions are ; and it 
is estimated that 7000 to 8000 chests are annually consumed 
in Malwa and the adjacent provinces. But their principal 
market is the city of Bombay, some 400 to 500 miles distant 
from Malwa. And in order to reach this market, all their 
opium must be transported over land this distance, and pass 
through certain territories of the East India Company. For 
the mere privilege of passing through these lands, the company 
levy a tax, or " transit duty," so called, of 400 rupees on every 
chest of opium. Formerly this tax was only Rs. 200 ; it was 
then raised to Rs. 300, and in 1847 increased again to Rs. 400. 
And in all probability within a few years, when the East India 
Company shall find it for its interest, a still larger transit duty 
or tax will be exacted. The law on this point is rigidly en- 
forced, as all opium found within the bounds of government's 
possessions, not covered by a passport, is confiscated at once, 
and subjects its owner to a heavy penalty. Thus a large rev- 
enue is annually collected. In 1846, about 25,000 chests of 
opium were transported in this way to Bombay, which would 
bring over £ 1,000,000 net income to the company. The 
opium is here purchased by merchants and exported to China. 
If we here add the revenue obtained at Calcutta, we find 
that the East India Company received in 1846 from this 
source X 3,000,000. And in 1847, inasmuch as there was some 


10,000 chests of opium sold at Calcutta more than the pre- 
vious year, the revenue must have considerably exceeded this 
amount. The merchants who hereafter become the principal 
parties in the business, make from fifteen to twenty-five per 
cent, more on all the opium exported from Calcutta and Bom- 
bay to China. But before describing particularly the trans- 
portation and sale of the drug, as well as its effects on the 
Chinese, let us examine briefly 


The plan of sending opium from Bengal to China, was first 
suggested by a Mr. Watson, in the year 1767, to a council of 
representatives of the East India Company held at Calcutta. 
Mr. Wheeler, at that time an officer and an influential member 
of the company, advocated the plan, and after being favorably 
entertained, it was adopted as a happy expedient towards 
raising a revenue for supporting government. Previously to 
this time, a small trade in opium, rarely exceeding 200 chests 
per year, had been carried on with the Chinese by some Por- 
tuguese merchants, who brought their opium from Turkey. 

From 1767 to 1794, the East India Company made several 
adventures of opium to China, which, for various causes, were 
not very successful. In 1794, the English succeeded in sta- 
tioning one of their ships, laden exclusively with opium, at 
Whampoa, where she lay unmolested for more than a year, 
selling out her cargo. This place continued about twenty-five 
years to be the principal market for the sale of the drug, 
though the trade encountered considerable difficulty from 
pirates infesting those seas as well as opposition on the part of 
the Chinese. Macao also furnished somewhat of a market 
but, in 1821, the opium merchants, on account of the diffi- 
culties attending the sale at these places, withdrew entirely 
from the harbor of Whampoa and Macao, and stationed then- 
vessels under shelter of Lintin Island, in the bay at the en- 
trance of Canton river. Henceforth this place became the 
seat of extensive trade. Here might be seen large armed ves- 
sels reposing, throughout the year, at anchor, constituting a 
floating depot of storehouses, for receiving the opium in large 
quantities from the ships bringing it from India, and dealing it 


out in chests and cases to the Chinese junks, to be retailed at 
various points on shore. The Merope, Capt. Parkyns, in 1821, 
was the first ship that commenced the system of delivering 
opium at different cities along the coast of China, and from 
that time, the trade increased with wonderful rapidity. Eli- 
gible places also on the east and north-east coast of China 
were selected to station receiving vessels, to which the Chinese 
might easily have access, and become participators in the 
trade. Mr. James Holman, in his "Travels in China," page 
162, describes the trade in 1830, as follows : — "At half-past 
one P. M., we anchored off the S. W. side of the Island of 
Lintin, where the foreign vessels engaged in the opium trade 
remained stationed, and we found the following ships lying 
at anchor: the Merope, Parkyns ; Samaranny, Grant, James 
Crockett; Jannisena, Hector; the American ships, Scatter- 
good, Tartar, Lintin, Margaret Forbes, and Terrier, brigantine ; 
the Portuguese ships Don Manuel and brig Letitia ; the Danish 
brig Dansborg and the French ship La Rose. After breakfast, 
Capt. Gove invited me to accompany him on a visit to some 
of the floating opium stores, which several of the vessels may 
justly be considered, as they remain in China all the year 
round to facilitate the importation of this article by receiving 
it from that class of vessels called opium runners. I examined 
specimens of the drug, made up into balls and cakes, and 
packed in cases ; however, the smugglers generally remove it 
from the ship in bags, in which it is more easily conveyed to 
the junks outside the port, and also for subsequent transporta- 
tion by land. Their smuggling boats are of an amazing 
length, and generally pull from forty to fifty oars. Their wea- 
pons of defence are usually one small carriage gun or swivel, 
with muskets, boarding spikes, swords and stones. Their 
boarding netting is similar to an ordinary fishing-net, being 
intended merely to guard them against the stones. They have 
also shields for the same purpose. Not a ball of opium is 
delivered by the receiving vessel until it has been previously 
paid for in cash, and the fear of their cannon-balls effectually 
prevents the Chinese war junks from interfering with them. 
The whole business of the transport of opium between 
Lintin and Canton, is. so admirably managed that the boats 


are but seldom interfered with, nor are they likely to be, so long 
as the Free Traders can afford to pay the mandarins so much 
better for not fighting, than the government will for doing their 

" The use of opium has become so universal among the 
people of China, that the laws which render it penal, and the 
proclamations which send forth their daily fulminations against 
its continuance, have not the slightest effect in checking the 
prevalence of so general a habit. Smoking houses abound in 
Canton ; and the inhabitants of every class who can furnish 
themselves with the means to obtain the pipe, are seldom 
without this article of general luxury. It is a propensity that 
has seized upon all ranks and classes, and is generally on the 

A well informed writer in the Chinese Repository for 1838, 
sketches the state of the trade at that time as follows: — 
" The Chinese coast from Macao to Chusan, is now the 
constant cruising ground of twenty opium ships. The waters 
of Canton are converted into one grand rendezvous for more 
than thirty opium boats. At Macao, besides several houses 
engaged in the sale of opium on a large scale, fifty or sixty 
smaller dealers distribute it by the catty or cake ; and the 
preparation of the drug for smoking and its introduction into 
the interior, under every ingenious cover, gives employment to 
ten times that number of Chinese. At Canton the foreign 
residents, with two or three uninfluential exceptions, are all 
identified with the opium trade. The late introduction of it 
in large quantities to "Whampoa, has had the unhappy effect 
of increasing vastly the number of buyers ; so that it is now 
rare to meet a native who is not himself engaged in its 
purchase, or whose opposition to it is not disarmed by the 
knowledge that it is the daily business of his friends and 

Rev. W. M. Lowrie, an American missionary, while sailing 
along the coast of China, in 1843, makes the following entry 
in his journal of August 31st: "During the voyage from 
Hong Kong to Amoy, we passed in sight of three of the great 
opium depots along the coast. These three were Ton«--san 
How-tow-san, and Namoa. At these three places, the opium 


dealers in Canton and Macao have ships constantly stationed 
to keep supplies of opium, and to them the smaller vessels, or 
opium clippers, as they are called, resort for cargoes which 
they carry to different parts of the coast, and dispose of 
always for silver. The number of vessels employed in this 
traffic is very great. A single mercantile house in Canton 
employs about fifty vessels, ships, barks, schooners and brigs, 
while another house has thirty or more. It is almost impossi- 
ble to find a vessel going up the coast which does not carry it. 
Nine opium ships were anchored close along-side of Amoy. 
I was told, on good authority, that every man in Amoy who 
could afford to buy opium, was in the habit of smoking it. 
The Chinese officers make no effort whatever to prevent its 
introduction, and I saw opium pipes openly exposed for sale 
in the streets. A few years ago, it would have been almost 
as much as a Chinaman's life was worth, to have been 
detected in the sale of anything used in consuming the 
prohibited article." Rev. Dr. Smith, now Bishop of Hong 
Kong, visited the island of Chusan, in 1845, and found sta- 
tioned there three or four opium receiving vessels, besides a 
Jarge number of native smuggling boats, which conveyed the 
drug to numerous cities on the main land. More than 2700 
chests were sold at Chusan annually, valued at almost two 
millions of dollars. 

Some idea of the extent of the trade at a much later date 
as well as of the parties engaged in it, may be obtained from 
the following statement of Mr. Martin, in his work on China, 
vol. ii., page 258, published in 1847 : — " There are a number 
of vessels engaged in the opium trade. Jardine & Company 
have the following opium vessels stationed at Amoy, one ; 
Namoa, one ; Chimmo Bay, one ; Whampoa, one ; and four 
or five plying always between Hong Kong and China. About 
five vessels are employed conveying opium between India and 
China, and a large receiving ship of seven hundred tons, is 
moored all the year round at Hong Kong. Dent & Com- 
pany have nearly as many vessels as Jardine & Co., but of a 
smaller class. Burn, Macivar & Co. have about four on the 
coast, and two between India and China. Gilman & Com- 
pany have three on the coast. Pyver, two on the coast with 


India A Parsee firm, Rustomjee & Company, two on the 
coast. An American firm, Russell & Company,* have four 
on the coast, and three between India and China, under the 
American flag." Here we have about fifty vessels enumerated 
as engaged exclusively in the opium trade, besides, in all 
probability, many others belonging to smaller concerns em- 
barked in this business, as well as a greater or less number of 
vessels which are only partially freighted with the drug. 

Mr. Henry Charles Sirr notices in his work on China, vol. 1., 
p. 176, the state of the trade in 1848, at Foo-chow : — " It is 
stated that two millions and a half dollar's worth of opium is 
annually imported into Foo-chow, from whence it finds its 
way into the interior. The Chinese assert that the inland 
trade has materially decreased, owing to the constant call for 
sycee silver to pay for the drug, which is smuggled along the 
coast as far as Chin-cew, one hundred and sixty miles south, 
where a large fleet of smuggling opium clippers lies, belonging, 
we regret to say, to some of the oldest and wealthiest firms in 
China. In the city of Foo-chow alone, more than one hundred 
houses are devoted to the smoking of the drug, whilst as many 
more retail the accursed poison in small quantities. Would 
it not be better, even in a commercial point of view, for our 
merchants to minister to the lawful wants of the people in 
China, than to pander to their vices, as trade must stagnate 
when energy and industry subside, which invariably is the 
case when man becomes an opium devotee ?" The Rev. Mr. 
Johnson, a Missionary of the A. B. C. F. M., visited Foo-chow 
in 1847, and states in the Missionary Herald of that year, p. 
357, that " He was informed by intelligent individuals, that not 
less than one half of the male population of that city were 
more or less enslaved to the use of opium." Rev. Mr. Cum- 
ings, another missionary of the same board, having resided in 
the same city for years, writes under date of June, 1850, in 
relation to this subject as follows: — " The destructive influence 

* This is the only American firm, as far as we can learn, engaged in the 
traffic : and what is the amount of capital invested, or the extent of the trade 
carried on under the American flag, we have no means at hand of knowing. 
The same censures which are applied to the English, should also be meted out 
to all Americans engaged in this traffic. 


of this trade is already immense. At the mouth of the river 
Min, thirty miles from this city, two receiving ships are 
stationed constantly. There they sell the poisonous drug to 
native merchants, who bring it to this place in small boats 
and retail it. So great is the market for it at this single port, 
that two ' clippers' are required to come to the receiving ships 
monthly with fresh cargoes to supply the demand. "We know 
not how great the amount sold is, nor its value ; but the 
drug is doing its fatal work here at a rapid rate. The most 
common answer given by Chinese themselves to the inquiry, 
how many smoke opium, makes the proportion of three to ten 
of the adult male population. And what adds to the evil is 
the fact, that the number is constantly increasing. This, too, 
if we mistake not, is the case at all the considerable ports on 
the coast of China." 

At Shanghai, a seaport still farther north, Mr. Sirr says, 
" We regret to say that the consumption of opium is very 
great, and the number of smoking houses numerous." 

S. W. Williams, LL. D., in a letter dated Canton, Septem- 
ber 27, 1849, and published in the Missionary Herald, for 
February, 1850, remarks on this traffic as follows : — " The 
opium trade is thriving, and from fifteen to sixteen millions of 
dollars leave China annually for this drug alone — much of it 
in specie, and all of it for produce as good — leaving, instead, 
everything evil and disastrous. The editor of the Friend of 
India says, if it was not for this importation of specie and the 
revenue of two and a half millions sterling derived from the 
opium trade, he does not see how the government of India 
could be carried on, and the army there paid. That govern- 
ment is consequently taking measures to increase the supply, 
and there will probably be 60,000 chests brought to China in 
1850, or nearly eight millions of pounds of opium." 

The Chinese boats that convey the opium along the coast 
and up the rivers for the purpose of sale, have received, from 
their peculiar character, the epithet of "fast crabs," and 
'■'■scrambling; dragons" and are manned by desperadoes of 
the worst and lowest class. All the iniquities of bribery, 
fraud, perjury, and violence, which are inseparably connected 
with smuggling, are practised ; and occasionally bloody col- 


lisions occur between them and the native authorities. Some- 
times with a perfect understanding on both sides, a sham-fight 
is got up between the smugglers and mandarins, in order to 
display great vigilance and activity, thereby deceiving the 
government agents. 

The ships used for transporting the opium from the ports 
of India to China are built and fitted up expressly for this 
business, and are said to be among the finest vessels anywhere 
to . be found. Most of them are constructed in the form of 
schooners or brigantines, with low hulls, and being adapted to 
cut the waves with remarkable speed, are called " clippers," or 
"runners." Mr. Martin, in his recent work on China, vol. ii., 
page 259, notices two of these vessels in the following man- 
ner : — " Altogether, there are about fifty vessels or ' clippers,' 
of various sizes, generally well manned and armed, and fast 
sailers, engaged in the opium traffic. The Mazeppa, a schooner 
of 130 tons, conveyed on one occasion half a million of dollars 
from the north-east coast of China to Hong Kong, the pro- 
ceeds of opium sold on the coast. The vessels conveying the 
drug from India to China are probably the finest boats in the 
world. The Lanrick, of 283 tons register, built at Liverpool, 
cost .£13,000, belonging to Jardine & Co. is superior in sailing 
on a wind to any man-of-war. I made a voyage in her down 
the China seas to Java, in 1845, in the teeth of the monsoon, 
when she was under the command of one of the most skilful 
and daring seamen that ever sailed. Frequently we were 
running eight and nine knots close hauled, and carrying 
royals, when a frigate would have reefed top-sails and courses. 
In one of her voyages the Lanrick carried 1250 chests of 
Bengal opium, valued at £200,000. The Lanrick, like other 
vessels of her class, was fully armed with long nine-pounders, 
musketry, etc. These vessels give a good idea of the ' buc- 
caneers ' which frequented the Spanish main. Their com- 
manders are generally educated men, of gentlemanly manners, 
very hospitable, of generous dispositions, well-skilled in sea- 
manship, and of a courage and boldness unsurpassed." These 
vessels described as so admirably adapted to this business, are 
now fast being superseded by steam-ships built expressly for 
the purpose. They run monthly from India to China, occupy- 


ing from fifteen to twenty days, and, besides transporting the 
government mail, carry generally from 1200 to 2000 chests of 
opium. The steam-ship Ganges sailed from Bombay, Novem- 
ber 17, 1852, with 2500 chests of opium — the largest quantity 
ever carried in one vessel. 

The following statistics, derived from the most authentic 
sources, will give some idea of the rapid progress and present 
extent of the trade : From 1794 to 1820, the amount of opium 
exported to China varied from 3000 to 7000 chests each year. 
In 1824, it increased to 12,639 chests, and, in 1834, to 21,785 
chests, valued at $14,454,193. In 1837, it amounted to be- 
tween 39,000 and 40,000 chests, valued at $25,000,000. In 
1838 and '39, the trade was seriously interrupted by the more 
decided and efficient measures of the Chinese to break up and 
suppress entirely the smuggling in of opium. After a series 
of altercations between the parties representing each govern- 
ment, as well as some more violent exhibitions of hostility, 
the Chinese forced the merchants to surrender what opium 
they had on hand, and destroyed the whole, amounting to 
more than 20,000 chests. This step led to a war between 
the two nations, and the negotiations for settlement were not 
entirely brought to a close till August, 1842. During these 
years, a much smaller quantity of opium was brought into the 
market, and the demand being so much greater than the 
supply, it sold for almost double its former price, bringing 
from $1000 to even $1600 per chest. Mr. Tiffany states that 
the members of one English house made in this way, at the 
close of the war, from four to eight hundred thousand pounds 
sterling a-piece. 

But no sooner was peace declared between the two nations, 
than again commenced brisk operations in the opium trade. 
From the " Commercial Memorandum," issued by the govern- 
ment opium agent stationed at Bombay, and therefore correct, 
we learn that the number of chests exported from that city 
to China, has been as follows: — 1844,18,321 chests; 1845, 
31,902; 1846, 13,227; 1847, 19,311; 1848, 15,196; 1849, 
36,000 ; 1850, 27,432 ; 1851, 24,031 ; 1852, 25,673. From an 
official report of the chief articles of trade exported from 
Bombay, we find that the average amount of opium for five 


years ending with December 31, 1848, is put down at 19,111 
chests. Since 1848, the amount of opium shipped from Bom- 
bay will average nearly 25,000 chests per annum, and its 
proceeds probably exceed each year $15,000,000. The opium 
trade in this city varies from year to year much more than 
That at Calcutta, which is entirely under the control of govern- 
ment and is a complete monopoly. The capital invested in 
this trade at Bombay alone, is greater than in any other 
article. In 1840, the opium traffic formed more than two- 
thirds of the total exports of Bombay. In 1846, the value of 
the opium exported from this city to China, was more than 
three times the amount of the exports to England, and more 
than the entire trade, exports and imports, between Bombay 
and all Europe. 

Let us now turn to Calcutta, and examine what has been 

the state of the trade in that city. From the Government 

Gazette and other official reports, we find the amount of 

exports of opium from Calcutta to China, put down as 

follows : — 1844, 21,526 chests; 1845, 22,000; 1846, 24,990; 

1847,21,649; 1848,28,705; 1849,36,085; 1850,34,860; 1851, 

34,014 ; and the Bengal government lately gave public notice 

that the opium to be sold the present year at the monthly 

auction sales would amount to between 39,000 and 40,000 

chests. It is sold at public auction in Calcutta, on express 

condition that it shall be immediately exported from India. 

Most of the mercantile houses here are more or less concerned 

in the trade. The quality of the opium (Benares and Patna) 

sold in Calcutta is not so good as the Malwa at Bombay, and 

docs not bring so high a price. The average rate for which 

the article has been sold for several years past — as near as 

we can make the estimate from price currents — will not vary 

much from $550 per chest.* Thus 36,000 chests of opium, 

sold at this rate, would bring almost $20,000,000. This sum 

added to the amount paid out at Bombay, and we have 

$35,000,000 expended for this single article of trade, and 

exported from these two cities alone. Then the Chinese pay 

* The price of opium, both at Bombay and Calcutta, is quite variable, some- 
times selling at 1000 Rs. and again bringing 1400 Rs. per chest. 


an advance on this sum of several millions more, which goes 
into the hands of the merchants as the fruit of their invest- 
ment and labors in the trade. The government sales of 
opium at Calcutta average at the present time about 3000 
chests, each month through the year, and the prices fluctuate 
from 1000 Its. to 1200 Us. per chest. It should here be stated, 
that, though most of the opium shipped from Bombay and 
Calcutta is carried directly to China, yet a considerable amount 
is disposed of every year at other ports and places in South- 
eastern Asia. The evils growing out of this traffic are not 
therefore confined wholly to China. 

Since the preceding facts were collected with much care and 
labor, from various sources, we have been kindly furnished 
with two papers published in India, containing valuable tables 
on this subject. It will be seen that these statistics do not 
differ materially from those already given. The Friend of 
India, published at Serampore, a paper of the highest authority 
in all such matters, made in its issue of Nov. 8th, 1849, the 
following statement: — 

" The last sale of opium of the season of 1848-9, at Calcutta, 
has been completed, and we are now enabled to estimate the 
results of the whole year, and to institute a comparison be- 
tween it and that of previous years. In order to give the 
reader a view of the gradual increase of this branch of the 
public revenue, we have drawn up from the statements pub- 
lished by government, a return of the receipts, disbursements 
and profits of the opium during the last twenty years. Of 
the results for the year now closed no official return has yet 
appeared. We have, therefore, taken the sum of receipts from 
the reports of monthly sales, and, for the column of expendi- 
ture, have assumed the cost of each chest of 300 rupees : — 

Receipts. Disbursements. Profits. 

1829-30, 16,280,868 4,443,767 11,837,101 

1830-31, 13,457,817 3,428,666 10,029,151 

1831-32, 13,087,883 2,677,863 11,410,020 

1832-33, 12,353,562 4,119,111 8,234,451 

1833-34, 13,652,246 4,239,155 9,413,091 

1834-35, 11,575,774 4,748,146 6,827,628 

1835-36, 18,051,428 4,890,056 13,161,372 

1836-37, ..... 18,956,449 5,657,560 13,298,889 


Receipts. Disbursements. » 

.0,7 % . . 22,429,041 8,110,218 14,318,823 

838 39 ' ' ' • • 13,710,366 6,724,398 6,985,968 

Lo! : . . . • 7,683,703 4,416,551 3 267,152 

,840-41 ...• 12,025,177 5,533,708 6,491,469 

84! 42 ' ... 13,826,480 5,787,689 8,038,791 

1842-43' ' ' . . • 18,316,504 5,064,355 13,252,149 

1843-44' . . . 22,846,066 6,160,270 16,685,796 

1844-45' ' ... 24,784,014 6,900,087 17,883,927 

1845-46' ' ... 29,610,660 7,557,742 22,051,918 

1846-47' .... 30,702,994 7,831,137 22,871,757 

1847-48 .... 23,625,153 10,558,767 13,066,386 

184 8-49,' 34,930,275 10,826,500 24,103,775 

« From this statement it will appear that, with the exception 
of the period in which the opium trade was disturbed by the 
confiscation of the twenty thousand chests by the Imperial 
Commissioner Lin, the income derived from this article has 
been steadily on the increase. During the last season, not- 
withstanding the loss inflicted on the revenue by the neglect 
which occurred in one of the agencies, the contribution to the 
exchequer from this source at this Presidency alone, fell little 
short of twenty -five millions of rupees, or two millions and a 
half sterling. The opium revenue has now become so impor- 
tant an element in our financial system, that it is difficult to 
imagine how the machine of government could be carried on 
without it. 

" To the revenue derived from the opium at this Presidency, 
must be added the duty obtained for the Malwa opium ship- 
ped through the port of Bombay, of which we have no account. 
But our Bombay contemporaries will doubtless be so kind as 
to supply it, to complete the opium statistics of the year now 

In reply to the above statement, we copy the following 
extract from the Bombay Gazette of November 20th, 1849 : — 
" The Friend of India, in an article on the opium revenue of 
Bengal which we republish, calls for statistics of that of Bom- 
bay. We should have thought that so eminent a statistician 
as the Friend, would not have required to send so far for the 
information which he desires ; but, seeing he has done so, are 
much ashamed at not being able to supply him with anything 
so perfect as we ought. But such as we have, we give unto 
him, and it runs as follows : — 


Sales of Opium Passes and Opium by the Government of Bombay. 

Years. Gross Revenue Cost of Net Revenue 

collected. collection. realized. 

1830-31, 983,675 

1831-32, 1,859,925 

1832-33, 1,508,325 

1833-34, 2,081,858 384,564 1,697,294 

1834-35, 1,752,803 311,092 1,441,711 

1835-36, 1,918,822 200,367 1,718,455 

1836-37, 2,678,467 669,757 2,008,710 

1837-38, 1,846,658 349,456 1,497,202 

1838-39, 2,748,565 205,247 2,543,318 

1839-40, 196,811 79,797 117,014 

1840-41, 2,187,125 

1841-42, 1,866,875 

1842-43, 2,597,009 54,627 2,542,382 

1843-44, 3,559,870 71,090 3,488,780 

1844-45, 3,791,404 61,973 3,729,431 

1845-46, 6,180,153 223,910 5,956,243 

1846-47, 6,108,418 39,790 6,068,628 

1847-48, 4,140,800 73,570 4,067,230 

1848-49, 8,732,000 (Estimated.) 

" The greater part of the above information, and all of it 
that is complete, is compiled from the successive accounts of 
annual revenue and disbursement of the East India Company 
presented to Parliament, our files of which papers, we see, are 
so incomplete that we cannot fill up the proper figures for 
1840-41, and 1841-42. The several rates of pass-duty preva- 
lent during these twenty years past, have been as follows : — 
From 8th November, 1830, to October, 1835, Its. 175 per 
chest ; from October, 1835, to 7th September, 1843, Its. 125 ; 
from 7th September, 1843, to 13th August, 1845, Rs. 200; 
from 13th August, 1845, to 1st December, 1846, Rs. 300 ; when 
the rate was raised to Rs. 400, at which it remains. The 
reduction of the rate to Rs. 125 in the year 1835, appears to 
have given the trade a great degree of activity ; and under it 
revenue largely and steadily increased, but it does not appear 
by the successive additions to the tax that the revenue has 
suffered, though the trade undoubtedly has. Perhaps govern- 
ment are now content with what they get, and are content to 
gratify their conscience and supply their coffers at the same 
time — by taxing the trade so well as they do; and now 
resolving to let it alone on those terms ! 


" These tables of the Friend's and our own together suggest 
a number of reflections. They (the reflections) may be cut 
short by remarking, that British India now really seems to be 
supported by the cultivation of a poisonous drug and selling 
it or smuggling it into China! The enterprise, when thus 
looked into, does not seem very noble; but then 'what can 
people do ?' " 

The principal use made of opium by the Chinese, is in the 
form of smoking, and one great object in the trade is to fur- 
nish an article adapted to their peculiar tastes. This depends 
somewhat upon the cultivation of the poppy — the quality of 
its seed — the goodness of the soil — the manner of collecting 
and converting its juice into a dry extract, or balls convenient 
for transportation. The Chinese value any sample of opium 
in direct proportion to the quantity of hot-drawn, watery ex- 
tract obtainable from it, and to the purity and strength of that 
extract when dried, and smoked through a pipe. Sometimes 
the ryots or native cultivators, in order to increase the weight 
of the article, and consequently their profits in its sale, have 
resorted to adulterating the juice of the poppy by mixing with 
it sugar, catechu, molasses, cow-dung, soft clayey mud, pounded 
poppy seed, as well as the juice of various plants, but these 
adulterations are generally detected by the government agents : 
and the Chinese themselves, having often been imposed upon in 
this way formerly, are now careful to test the purity of the drug, 
before purchasing. The Rev. Dr. Smith, formerly of the Church 
Missionary Society, in a voyage from Hong Kong to Shanghai, 
in 1845, thus notices this feature of the trade as he was enter- 
ing the Woosung river: — "Our own vessel, though not en- 
gaged in the opium traffic, carried 750 chests of opium as a 
part of her freight, which were discharged on board of one of 
the receiving ships stationed at Woosung. We went on board 
this ship and saw the process of preparing the inspissated juice 
of the opium for test, previous to purchase. On opening the 
chests, and clearing away a number of dry poppy leaves, an 
oblong dry cake, of a brown color, was taken out, weighing 
four or five pounds. In the boxes made up by the East India 
Company, greater care is taken. The balls are more round, 
and are placed in partitions, each box containing forty, and 


being, moreover, carefully cased in hides. The bargain is soon 
struck with the Chinese broker, who incurs the risk of pur- 
chasing for the more opulent Chinese opium merchants at 
Shanghai and in the neighborhood. A piece of opium is 
taken as a sample from three separate balls, and prepared in 
three separate pots for smoking, to test its freedom from adul- 
teration. This process took nearly half an hour, during which 
the opium was mixed with water, and after simmering and 
straining, was kept boiling till, by evaporation, it was reduced 
to a thick consistency, like treacle. Each box is sold for 
nearly .£200 ; and we saw about 1500 taels of Sycee silver in 
large lumps, of the shape of a shoe, weighed out and paid 
into the iron chest of the ship. Shropps, opium dealers, inter- 
preters, and native accountants, were closely standing to- 
gether on different parts of the deck, which wore a busy and 
painfully animated appearance." 


After the arrival of the drug in China, various chemical 
experiments are tried upon it, in order to make it more 
agreeable, and increase its pleasurable effects on the nervous 
system. It has been found, that by subjecting it to a process 
of heating, evaporation, filtering, etc. its strength is very much 
increased as well as its flavor greatly improved. Dr. Williams, 
in his work on China, vol. ii., page 388, gives the following 
minute account of this process, together with a description of 
the pipe used in smoking : 

" The utensils used in preparing the opium for smoking, 
consist chiefly of three hemispherical brass pans, two bamboo 
filters, two portable furnaces, earthern pots, ladles, straining 
cloths, and sprinklers. The ball being cut in two, the interior 
is taken out, and the opium adhering to, or contained in the 
leafy covering is previously simmered three several times, 
each time using a pint of spring water, and straining it into 
an earthern pot; some cold water is poured over the dregs 
after the third boiling, and from half a cake (weighing at first 
about twenty-eight pounds, and with which this process is 
supposed to be conducted) there will be about five pints of 
liquid. The interior of the cake is then boiled with this liquid 


for about an hour, until all is reduced to a paste, which is 
spread out with a spatula in two pans, and exposed to the fire 
for two or three minutes at a time, till the water is all driven 
off; during this operation, it is often broken up and respread, 
and at the last drying cut across with a knife. It is all then 
spread out and covered with six pints of water, and allowed 
to remain several hours or over-night for digestion. When 
sufficiently soaked, a rag filter is placed on the edge of the 
pan, and the whole of the valuable part drips slowly through 
the rag into a basket lined with coarse bamboo paper, from 
which it falls into the other brass pan, about as much liquid 
going through as there was water poured over the cake. The 
dregs are again soaked and immediately filtered till found to 
be nearly tasteless ; this weaker part usually makes about six 
pints of liquid. 

" The first six pints are then briskly boiled, being sprinkled 
with cold water to allay the heat so as not to boil over, and 
removing the scum, by a feather, into a separate vessel. After 
boiling twenty minutes, five pints of the weak liquid are 
poured in and boiled with it, until the whole is evaporated to 
about three pints, when it is strained through a paper into 
another pan, and the remaining pint thrown into the pan just 
emptied, to wash away any portion that may remain in it, and 
also boiled a little while, when it is also strained into the three 
pints. The whole is then placed over a slow fire in the small 
furnace, and boiled down to a proper consistency for smoking ; 
while it is evaporating, a ring forms around the edge, and the 
pan is taken off the fire at intervals to prolong the process, the 
mass being the while rapidly stirred with sticks and fanned, 
until it becomes like thick treacle, when it is taken out and 
put into small pots for smoking. The boxes in which it is 
retailed, are made of buffaloes' horn, of such a size as easily to 
be carried about the person. The dregs containing the vege- 
table residuum, together with the scum and washings of the 
pans, are lastly strained and boiled with water, producing 
about six pints of thin brownish liquid, which is evaporated to 
a proper consistence for selling to the poor. The process of 
seething the crude opium is exceedingly unpleasant to those 
unaccustomed to it, from the overpowering narcotic fumes 


which arise, and this odor marks every shop where it is pre- 
pared, and every person who smokes it. The loss in weight 
by this mode of preparation is about one half. The Malays 
prepare it in much the same manner. The custom in Penang 
is to reduce the dry cake made on the first evaporation to a 
powder ; and when it is digested and again strained and 
evaporated, reducing it to a consistence resembling shoe- 
makers' wax. 


" The opium pipe consists of a tube of heavy wood, fur- 
nished at the head with a cup, which serves to collect the re- 
siduum or ashes left after combustion ; this cup is usually a 
small cavity in the end of the pipe, and serves to elevate the 
bowl to a level with the lamp. The bowl of the pipe is made 
of earthen-ware, of an ellipsoid, and sets down upon the hole, 
itself having a rimmed orifice on the flat side. The opium 
smoker always lies down, and the singular picture given by 
Davis, of a ' Mandarin smoking an opium-pipe,' dressed in his 
official robes and sitting up at a table, was probably made to 
order by some artist who had never seen anybody use it. 
Lying along the couch, he holds the pipe, aptly called yen 
tsiang-, i. e. smoking pistol, by the Chinese, so near to the lamp 
that the. bowl can be brought up to it without stirring himself. 
A little opium of the size of a pea, being taken on the end of 
a spoon-headed needle, is put upon the hole of the bowl, and 
set on fire at the lamp, and inhaled at one whiff, so that none 
of the smoke shall be lost. Old smokers will retain the breath 
a long time, filling the lungs, and exhaling the fumes through 
the nose. The taste of the half-fluid extract is sweetish and 
oily, somewhat like rich cream, but the smell of the burning 
drug is rather sickening. When the pipe has burned out, 
the smoker lies somewhat listless for a moment while the 
fumes are dissipating, and then repeats the process until he 
has spent all his purchase, or taken his prescribed dose." 


In many of the cities of China may be found numerous shops 
devoted exclusively to the sale of the drug, with accommoda- 


tions fitted up expressly for smoking. The poorer classes gen- 
erally resort to these shops, but the wealthier orders do their 
smoking more privately in their own dwellings. Many of 
these shops are represented to be the most miserable and 
wretched places imaginable. They are kept open day and 
night, each being furnished with a greater or less number of 
bedsteads, constructed of bamboo-spars, and covered with 
dirty mats and rattans. A narrow wooden stool is placed at 
the head of the bed, which answers for a pillow or bolster ; 
and in the centre of each shop there is a small lamp, which 
diffuses a cheerless light through this gloomy abode of vice and 
misery. The shop-keeper attends on his customers, serving 
them with a pipe, the prepared drug and other implements 
used in smoking. The Rev. Mr. Squire, (of the Church Mis- 
sionary Society,) who resided several years in China, in speak- 
ing of the opium shops at Canton, says: — "Never, perhaps, 
was there a nearer approach to hell upon earth, than within 
the precincts of these vile hovels, where gaming is likewise 
carried on to a great extent. Here every gradation of excite- 
ment and depression may be witnessed." The Rev. Mr. Pohl- 
man, an American missionary who resided several years at 
Amoy, states that there are as many as one thousand opium 
shops in that city alone, where the drug can be obtained and 
facilities are furnished for smoking. While the rich have pri- 
vate rooms fitted up for this purpose, with all the conveniences 
which can administer to their comfort, taste or luxury. 


The class and number of persons addicted to this practice 
may be inferred from the following facts. One of the chief offi- 
cers belonging to the Chinese court, in a memorial to the Em- 
peror, says : — » At first, the use of opium was confined to the 
pampered sons of fortune, with whom it was an idle luxury, 
but still used with moderation, and under the power of re- 
straint. Since then its use has extended upward to the officers 
and belted gentry, and downwards to the laborer and trades- 
man, to the traveller, and even to women, monks, nuns, and 
priests. In every place its inhalers are to be found. And the 
implements required for smoking it are now sold publicly in 


the face of day." It includes therefore among its votaries, offi- 
cers of high rank and dignity, wealthy men, merchants and 
bankers, as well as the common mechanics and laborers. But 
it has been the general opinion of writers on this subject, that 
opium smoking was most prevalent among the higher classes 
of the Chinese, inasmuch as the habit is a very expensive one, 
and this class of persons are most exposed to the tempta- 
tion. As to the number of persons addicted to the vice, it 
must range between four and five millions. From a careful 
and somewhat extended inquiry made by persons having the 
best means of knowing as to the exact amount of opium daily 
used by those in the habit of smoking, it was ascertained that, 
on an average, each person consumed a little upwards of seven- 
teen grains per day. According to these data, 10,000 chests 
would supply only one million of persons, and for the three 
last years, there have been more than 50,000 chests of opium 
annually consumed in China in this way. 

The quantity of opium daily consumed depends very much 
on the habits of the smoker ; at first he cannot inhale more 
than from 3 to 6 grains at a time, but will go on gradually in- 
creasing the dose, till in a few years some consume even 300 
grains daily. The expenses attending this habit are very great 
— so great that in most instances it regulates the quantity 
used, each one consuming as much as he can possibly com- 
mand means to obtain. Dr. Smith, while visiting the opium 
smoking shops at Amoy, questioned ten persons indiscrimi- 
nately as he met them — most of whom were laborers — as to 
the formation, effect, and expense of the habit, etc. Five of 
these individuals consumed a mace or sixty grains daily, and 
it cost them on an average two thirds of their daily earn- 
ings to purchase the article ! This fact shows how amazingly 
expensive is the habit, and what a fearfully impoverishing 
effect it must have upon all those who, for any length of time, 
give themselves up to this vice. Besides, it is calculated by 
Mr. Martin, and other writers well acquainted with the evil, 
and competent to form a correct judgment in the matter as 
any other individuals that can be found, that the victims of 
this vice do not live on an average more than ten years after 
they have once fairly given way to the habit. It brings 


on a train of diseases which make rapid work of destruction on 
all the vital organs of the human body. By means of this vice 
then, according to the above data, and estimating the number 
of opium smokers at 5,000,000, more than 500,000 human be- 
ings in China find annually a premature grave! What other 
vice in the whole history of the world ever produced such 
appalling ravages on human life! 


Opium is one of the oldest and most valuable articles in the 
Materia Medica. It is used in medicine, in its various prepar- 
ations, under a greater variety of circumstances, and to accom- 
plish more important results, than any other single article. 
Strike out this drug from the list of therapeutical remedies, 
and it would be very difficult for the whole class of narcotics 
or sedatives, or even both combined, to make good its place. 
The immortal Sydenham once remarked, that if he could be 
allowed only two weapons with which to combat disease, in 
its multifarious forms, opium would be his first choice. So on 
the other hand, the evils growing out of its abuse, surpass, in 
magnitude, permanency and extent, those of all other medi- 
cinal agents combined, unless it be that of ardent spirits. 

By a series of experiments, it has been found that opium 
given in large doses, operates on the whole animal kingdom as 
a powerful poison, causing paralysis, convulsions, stupor and 
death ; and the greater the development of the nervous sys- 
tem, the more marked and diversified, the effects of the drug. 
So in reference to the different races, as well as individuals of 
each race, its operations are not uniform. On the Indian and 
Negro, who have a predominance of the sanguine, lymphatic or 
muscular temperament, its effects partake more of an animal 
nature ; but where there is a greater development and activity 
of the brain, together with the nervous system, it operates 
more directly and effectively on the mind. At the same time, 
its deleterious effects on the body are by no means diminished. 

Again. The effects of the opium on the human system de- 
pend very much upon the quantity and frequent use, as well 
as the age, temperament, habits, idiosyncracy, etc., of the indi- 
vidual. Its first and most common effect is to excite the intel- 


lect, stimulate the imagination, and exalt the feelings into a 
state of great activity and buoyancy, producing unusual vi- 
vacity and brilliancy in conversation, and at the same time, the 
most profound state of perfect self-complacency. All idea of 
labor, care and anxiety vanish at once from the mind. Then 
follow a succession of gorgeous dreams or a continued state 
of ecstasy, almost indescribable. Mr. Tiffany, in his late work 
on the " Canton Chinese," thus happily attempts to sketch this 
state of the opium smoker: — " The victim inhales his allotted 
quantity and his senses swim around him, he feels of subtle 
nature, he floats from earth as if on pinions. He would leave 
his humble station, his honest toil, his comfortable home ; he 
would be great. He runs with ease the paths of distinction ; 
he distances rivals ; wealth and power wait upon him, the 
mighty take him by the hand. His dress is costly, his fare 
sumptuous, his home a palace, and he revels in the pleasures 
he has read of and believed to be a fiction. Music sounds 
through his lofty halls, sages assemble to do him honor, women 
of the brightest beauty throng around him,, he is no longer 
poor, lowly and despised, but a demigod. The feast is spread, 
the sparkling cup filled to the brim with hot wine, and he rises 
to welcome one whom he has left far behind in the path of 
glory, to tender to him triumphant courtesy. And as he advances 
a step, he reels and staggers wildly, and competitors, guests, 
minstrels, magnificence, all fade from his vision, and the gray, 
cold reality of dawn breaks upon his heated brain, and he 
knows that all was nought, and that he is the same nameless 
creature that he has ever been. A cold shudder agitates his 
frame, weak and worthless he seeks the air, but finds no relief. 
He cannot turn his thoughts to his calling, he is unfit for exer- 
tion, his days pass in sloth and bitter remorse. And when 
night comes in gloom, he seeks again the sorceress into whose 
power he has sunk, and whose finger mocks while it beckons 
him on." 

There seems to be a wonderful power in the use of this 
drug, to attract and captivate. It holds out a temptation far 
more powerful than that of any other intoxicating agent. Such 
is the testimony of experience as well as observation in the 
matter. This fascination does not arise merely from that pas- 


sion in human nature for excitement — that yearning after 
stimulus, and that horror of ennui which crowd the Parisian 
theatre — the English gin-palace and the American bar-room ; 
but, from having experienced or heard of that peculiar state of 
ecstasy which can be produced only by this drug, and which 
has' not inappropriately, in some respects, been termed the 
" Chinese heaven." 

A writer, in the Chinese Repository for 1836, comparing the 
effects of ardent spirits with opium, after enumerating several 
points of resemblance, concludes his remarks (p. 297) as fol- 
lows: — « There is but one point more of difference between 
the intoxication of ardent spirits and that of opium deserving 
of particular attention, and that is, the tenfold force with 
which every argument against the former applies to the latter. 
There is no slavery on earth, to be compared with the bondage 
into which opium casts its victim. There is scarcely one 
known instance of escape from its toils, when once they have 
fairly enveloped a man. The fact is far too notorious to be 
questioned for one moment, that there is in opium, when once, 
indulged in, a fatal fascination which needs almost superhu- 
man powers of self-denial, and also capacity for the endurance 
of pain, to overcome. The operation of opium is, on this 
account, far more deadly by many degrees than its less tyran- 
nous rival." 

It is the after or secondary effects of this drug, which have 
such a destructive influence on the constitution. Its continued 
use destroys the natural appetite — deranges the digestive 
organs — impedes the circulation, and vitiates the quality of 
the blood — depresses the spirits, and gradually weakens the 
power of the involuntary nerves as well as the volitions of the 
mind ; thereby taking away the powers of free agency and con- 
verting the man into the brute. How expressive the remark 
once made by a distinguished mandarin: It is not the man who 
eats opium, but it is opium that eats the man. 

The practice of eating opium as a luxury has prevailed for 
more than a century in Persia and Turkey, but that of smoking 
it, originated at a much later period, and has been confined 
mostly to China and its adjacent provinces. The effects of the 
latter practice, we believe, are far more pernicious than the 


former. The truth of this position is supported by two argu- 
ments — 1st, The different mode of receiving the drug into the 
system ; and, 2dly, From an examination of the facts in the 
case. "When opium is taken into the stomach, besides its 
local effects, its influence is communicated both by the sen- 
tient nerves of the stomach to the cerebro-spinal system, and 
thence to the whole animal economy, and by absorption into 
the blood through the veins and lymphatics. But when opium 
is inhaled into the lungs, it comes in direct contact with a far 
more extended and delicate tissue, composed in a great meas- 
ure of nerves, and not only enters the circulation more or less 
by absorption, but at the same time, by its inherent nature, 
contracts the air-cells of the lungs in such a manner as to pre- 
vent the blood from receiving its due proportion of oxygen. 
This radical change in the quality of the blood must have a 
most destructive influence. The manner of smoking opium 
differs materially from that of tobacco. The process consists 
in taking very long whiffs, thereby expanding the lungs to 
their utmost capacity, and communicating the influence of the 
drus to all the air-cells, and at the same time retaining it there 
as long as possible. This secret explains in part the almost 
instantaneous and powerful effect which it exerts upon the 
whole system. 

In the former case, the poison enters the system very much 
diluted with other ingredients ; but, in the latter, it is received 
in a purer and more concentrated form, and its deadly effects 
fall more directly upon the vital organs of the system. Now 
as to the facts in the case. Travellers in Persia, Turkey, and 
other countries, where the vice of opium eating has existed for 
a long time, do not represent the evils to be near as great as 
those of opium smokers in China. The change produced by 
the former practice upon the physical system is not character- 
ized by so rapid or marked progress. Its victims, too, retain a 
better control, as well as longer use of their mental faculties, 
and are known often er to reform. Other essential points of 
difference might be noticed, but, without dwelling on this part 
of the subject longer, we will here introduce a summary state- 
ment from various writers who have been careful observers of 
the effects of smoking opium. 


Let us listen, in the first place, to the testimony of the 
Chinese themselves on this subject. A distinguished Chinese 
scholar, in a memorial to the Emperor, says : — " Opium is a 
poisonous drug brought from foreign countries ; and, when 
the poison takes effect, the habit becomes fixed, and the sleeping 
smokers are like corpses — lean and haggard as demons." He 
proceeds to illustrate in detail, its effects, under these heads, — 
It exhausts the animal spirits — impedes the regular perform- 
ance of business — ivastes the flesh and blood — dissipates every 
kind of property — renders the person ill-favored — promotes 
obscenity — discloses secrets — violates the laws — attacks the 
vitals, and destroys life. Another Chinese, (holding a high 
office in government,) speaking of opium smoking, remarks 
that " When the habit becomes inveterate, it is necessary to 
smoke at certain fixed hours. Time is consumed, men's duties 
are forgotten, and they can no longer live without this poison. 
Its symptoms are difficulty of breathing, chalky paleness, dis- 
colored teeth, and a withered skin. People perceive that it 
hurries them to destruction, but it leaves them without spirit 
to desist." Another government officer writes to Sir Henry 
Pottinger, that " Opium is an article whose flowing poison 
spreads like flames. It is neither pulse nor grain, yet multi- 
tudes of our Chinese subjects consume it, wasting their prop- 
erty and destroying their lives; and the calamities arising 
therefrom are unutterable. How is it possible to refrain from 
forbidding our people to use it ? " In another state paper, this 
evil is described by one of the Emperor's ministers "as a 
fearful desolating pestilence, pervading all classes of people, 
wasting their property, enfeebling their mental faculties, ruin- 
ing their bodies and shortening their lives." What stronger 
language can be used to characterize the injurious effects of 
any one evil ? But let us examine what foreign residents and 
travellers in China say on the subject. Dr. G. H. Smith, who 
resided some years as a surgeon at Penang, describes the 
effect of opium smoking, in the Medico-Chirurgical Review 
for April, 1842, as follows : — « The hospitals and poor-houses 
are chiefly filled with opium smokers. In one that I had the 
charge of, the inmates averaged sixty daily ; five-sixths of 
whom were smokers of chandoo. The baneful effects of this 


habit on the human constitution are conspicuously displayed 
by stupor, forgetfulness, general deterioration of all the mental 
faculties, emaciation, debility, sallow complexion, lividness of 
lips and eyelids, languor and lack-lustre of eye, appetite either 
destroyed or depraved. In the morning, these creatures have 
a most wretched appearance, evincing no symptoms of being 
refreshed or invigorated by sleep, however profound. There 
is a remarkable dryness or burning in the throat, which urges 
them to repeat the opium smoking. If the dose be not taken 
at the usual time, there is great prostration, vertigo, torpor, 
and discharge of water from the eye. If the privation be 
complete, a still more formidable train of phenomena take 
place. Coldness is felt over the whole body, with aching pains 
in all parts. Diarrhoea occurs ; the most horrid feelings of 
wretchedness come on ; and if the poison be withheld, death 
terminates the victim's existence." In the London Lancet 
for 1841, we find these observations from James Hill, a sur- 
geon of an English ship, which visited China in 1839: — 
" The habitual use of opium, as practised by the Chinese, 
cannot fail to produce the most injurious effects upon the 
constitution. The peculiar languid and vacant expression, 
the sallow and shrivelled countenance, the dim and sunken 
eye, and the general emaciated and withered appearance of 
the body, easily distinguish the confirmed opium smoker. 
The mind, likewise, soon participates in the general wreck of 
the body ; and the unhappy individual, losing all relish for 
society, remains in a state of sottish indifference to every 
thing around him but the deadly drug, now his only solace, 
which sooner or later hurries its victim to an untimely grave." 
Such is the testimony of two medical observers, whose edu- 
cation and professional duties gave them superior advantages 
for judging correctly of the effects of this drug. 

Capt. John Shepperd, recently chairman of the East India 
Company, who has spent considerable time in China, says: — 
" The smoking of opium has the most demoralizing effects. 
To a certain extent it destroys their reason and faculties, and 
shortens life. A confirmed opium smoker is never fit to con- 
duct business, and generally unfit for all social intercourse 
with his friends and family. You may tell him by his in- 
flamed eyes, and haggard countenance." 


Mr. T. Lay, who accompanied Beechey's expedition as 
naturalist, states in his journal, while among the Chinese, 
that the opium smoker may be readily identified by his "lank 
and shrivelled limbs, tottering gait, sallow visage, feeble voice, 
and the death-boding glance of his eye. These are so super- 
lative in their degree, and so closely blended in their union, 
that they at once bespeak him to be the most forlorn creature 
that treads the earth." 

Lord Jocelyn, who was engaged as military secretary in 
the campaign of 1840, thus adverts to the use of opium as 
witnessed at Singapore : — " One of the streets in the centre 
of the town is wholly devoted to shops for the sale of this 
poison; and here in the evening may be seen, after the labors 
of the day are over, crowds of Chinese, who seek these places 
to satisfy their depraved appetites. The rooms where they sit 
and smoke, are surrounded by wooden couches, with places 
for the head to rest upon, and generally a side-room is devoted 
to gambling. The pipe is a reed of about an inch in diame- 
ter, and the aperture in the bowl for the admixture of opium 
is not larger than a pin's head. The drug is prepared with 
some kind of conserve, and a very small portion is sufficient 
to charge it, one or two whiffs being the utmost that can be 
inhaled from a single pipe, and the smoke is taken into the 
lungs as from the hookah in India. On a beginner, one or 
two pipes will have an effect, but an old stager will continue 
smoking for hours. At the head of each couch is placed a 
small lamp, as fire must be held to the drug during the process 
of smoking; and from the difficulty of filling and properly 
lighting the pipe, there is generally a person who waits upon 
the smoker to perform that office. A few days of this fearful 
luxury, when taken to excess, will give a pale and haggard 
look to the face, and a few months, or even weeks, will change 
the strong and healthy man into a little better than an idiot 
skeleton. The pains they suffer when deprived of the drug 
after long habit, no language can describe ; and it is only 
when to a certain degree under its influence, that their facul- 
ties are alive. In these houses devoted to their ruin, these 
infatuated people may be seen, at nine o'clock in the evening, 
in all the different stages. Some entering, half distracted, to 


feed the craving appetite they have been obliged to subdue 
during the day, others laughing and talking wildly under the 
effects of a first pipe, whilst the couches round are filled with 
their different occupants, who lie languid, with an idiot smile 
upon their countenance, too much under the influence of the 
drug to care for passing events, and fast emerging to the 
wished-for consummation. The last scene in this tragic play 
is generally a room in the rear of the building, a species of 
dead-house, where lie stretched those who have passed into 
the state of bliss which the opium smoker madly seeks — an 
emblem of the long sleep to which he is blindly hurrying." 

Mr. R. M. Martin, who is well known as the author of 
several valuable works on India and the British Colonies, has 
recently published a large work on China. Mr. Martin for 
some time held the situation of her " Majesty's Treasurer for 
Colonial, Consular and Diplomatic Services in China," and 
was also a " Member of her Majesty's Legislative Council at 
Hong Kong." His opportunities, therefore, of acquiring infor- 
mation, official and by observation were superior, and in a 
chapter on this subject, vol. ii. page 176, he remarks thus: — 
" No language would convey a description of the sufferings 
of those to whom opium has become a necessary part of 
existence ; no picture could impress the fearful misery which 
the inmates of an opium smoking shop exhibit. Those dens 
of human suffering are attended by unfortunate women — as 
opium in the early use is aphrodisiac, and as such prized by 
the Chinese. In few, but very few instances, if indeed in any, 
moderation in opium is exercised : once fairly begun, there is no 
cessation, until poverty and death ensue ; and when digestion 
has nearly ceased and deglutition even becomes painful, the 
utmost effect of the drug is merely to mitigate the horrors of 
existence. Those who begin its use at twenty, may expect to 
die at thirty years of age; the countenance becomes pallid, 
the eyes assume a wild brightness, the memory fails, the gait 
totters, mental exertion and moral courage sink, and a frightful 
marasmus or atrophy reduces the victim to a ghastly spectacle, 
who has ceased to live before he has ceased to exist. There is 
no slavery so complete as that of the opium taker : once habit- 
uated to his dose as a factitious stimulant, everything will be 


endured rather than the privation ; and the unhappy being 
endures all the mortification of a consciousness of his own 
degraded state, while ready to sell wife and children, body 
and soul, for the continuance of his wretched and transient 
delight; transient indeed — for at length the utmost effect 
produced is a temporary suspension of agony, and finally no 
dose of the drug will remove or relieve a state of suffering 
which it is utterly impossible to describe. The pleasurable 
sensations and imaginative ideas arising at first, soon pass 
away ; they become fainter and fainter, and at last entirely 
give place to horrid dreams and appalling pictures of death : 
spectres of fearful visage haunt the mind ; the light which 
once seemed to emanate from heaven is converted into the 
gloom of hell; sleep, balmy sleep, has fled forever; night 
succeeds day only to be clothed with never-ending horrors; 
incessant sickness, vomiting, diarrhoea, and total cessation of 
digestive functions ensue ; and death at length brings, with its 
annihilation of the corporeal structure, the sole relief to the 
victim of sensual and criminal indulgence. The opium shops 
which I visited in the East were perfect types of hell upon 

Sir J. F. Davis, the late Governor of Hong Kong, published 
a work on China some years since, and in giving a brief 
sketch of Chinese commerce, remarked as follows : — " The 
engrosing taste of all ranks and degrees in China for opium, a 
drug whose importation has of late years exceeded the aggre- 
gate value of every other English import combined, deserves 
particular notice, especially in connection with the revenues of 
British India, of which it forms an important item. The use 
of this pernicious narcotic has become as extensive as the 
increasing demand for it was rapid from the first. The con- 
traband trade (for opium has always been prohibited as 
hurtful to the health and morals of the people) was originally 
at Macao ; but the Portuguese drove it to the Island of 
Lintin, where the opium is kept stored in armed ships, and 
delivered to the Chinese smugglers by written orders from 
Canton, on the money being paid at that place. A late 
memorial to the Emperor from one of the censors laid open 
the evil in all its deformity. I have learned, says he, that 


those who smoke opium and eventually become its victims, 
have a periodical longing for it, which can only be assuaged 
by the application of the drug at the regular time. If they 
cannot obtain it when this daily period arrives, their limbs 
become debilitated, a discharge of rheum takes place from 
the eyes and nose, and they are altogether unequal to any 
exertion ; but, with a few whirl's, their strength and spirits are 
immediately restored in a surprising manner. Thus opium 
becomes to opium smokers their very life ; and when they are 
seized and brought before magistrates, they will sooner suffer 
a severe chastisement than inform against those who sell it." 

In 1847, Rev. Dr. Smith published a work detailing his 
researches in China, in the years 1844, '45 and '46, while on an 
exploring expedition, with instructions from the Church Mis- 
sionary Society to collect information upon the moral and 
religious character and wants of the Chinese. His attention 
was therefore particularly called to the influence of the opium 
trade as furnishing a great obstacle to the introduction of Chris- 
tianity into China, and in his work as well as public speeches 
on his return to England, he was faithful in exposing the 
effects of this evil. Since then, Mr. Smith has been appointed 
Bishop of Hong Kong. Mr. S. spent the winter of 1846 at 
Amoy, and the following sketch is, in part, the result of his 
observations on this subject : — " During my stay at Amoy, I 
made many inquiries respecting the prevalence and effects of 
opium smoking, and often visited, with a missionary friend, 
some of the shops in which opium was sold. The first opium 
house which we entered was situated close to the entrance to 
the taou-tais palace. Four or five rooms in different parts of 
a square court, were occupied by men stretched out on a rude 
kind of couch, on which lay a head-pillow, with lamps, pipes 
and other apparatus for smoking opium. In one part of the 
principal room the proprietor stood, with delicate steel-yards, 
weighing out the prepared drug, which was of a dark, thick, 
semi-fluid consistency. A little company of opium smokers, 
who had come hither to indulge in the expensive fumes, or to 
feast their eyes on the sight of that which increasing poverty 
had placed beyond their reach, soon gathered around us and 
entered into conversation. Lim-pai, who accompanied us — 


himself a reclaimed opium smoker — earnestly took part in the 
conversation with his countrymen. They formed a motley 
group of sallow, sunken cheeks, and glassy, watery eyes, as 
with idiotic look and vacant laugh, they readily volunteered 
items of information, and described the process of their own 
degradation. They all assented to the evils and sufferings of 
their course, and professed a desire to be forced from its power. 
They all complained of loss of appetite, of the agonizing crav- 
ings of the early morning, of prostration of strength, and of 
increasing feebleness, but said that they could not gain firm- 
ness of resolution to overcome the habit. They all stated its 
intoxicating effects to be worse than those of drunkenness, and 
described the extreme dizziness and vomiting which ensued, 
so as to incapacitate them for exertion. The oldest man 
among their number, with a strange inconsistency and candor, 
expatiated on the misery of his course. For three years, he 
said he had abandoned the indulgence, at the period of Com- 
missioner Lin's menacing edicts and compulsory prohibition 
of opium. At the conclusion of the British war, the opium 
ships came unmolested to Amoy ; he had opened an opium 
shop for gain, and soon he himself fell a victim. He enlarged 
on the evils of opium smoking, which he asserted to be six : 
1. Loss of appetite ; 2. Loss of strength ; 3. Loss of money ; 
4. Loss of time ; 5. Loss of longevity ; 6. Loss of virtue, 
leading to profligacy and gambling. He then spoke of the 
insidious approaches of temptation, similar to those of the 
drunkard's career. A man was sick, or had a cold ; a friend 
recommended opium, and he fell into the snare. Or again, 
some acquaintance would meet him and press him by urgent 
solicitations to accompany him to an opium house. At first 
he would refuse to join in smoking; by degrees his friends 
became cheerful ; their society was pleasant ; his scruples were 
derided; his objections speedily vanished; he partook of the 
luxury : it soon became essential to his daily life, and he found 
himself at length unable to overcome its allurements. 

" I subsequently visited about thirty other opium shops in 
different parts of the city. One of these opium dens was a 
narrow, dark, and filthy hole, almost unfit for a human being 
to enter, and appropriately joining a coffin-maker's shop. From 


the people we gained various particulars as to the nature and 
extent of the opium traffic. The large native wholesale dealers 
were in the habit of strongly manning and arming a boat, in 
which they proceeded outside the boundaries of the port to 
the Six Islands. There the foreign opium vessels lying at 
anchor were similarly armed and prepared for resistance, in 
event of the Chinese authorities attempting to capture them. 
The native boats returned with the chests of opium to Amoy, 
and might be seen, with some European flag flying aloft, 
passing swiftly through the harbor, with sails set, and all the 
crew plying their oars. They always formed too strong a force 
to encourage the hope of successful pursuit, either by the 
pirates or mandarins. The wholesale native smugglers then 
retail the opium balls separately to the retail dealers and pro- 
prietors of opium shops. No secrecy is observed respecting 
this article of universal traffic. I have seen three consecutive 
houses kept by opium venders. The people say that there 
are nearly a thousand such establishments in Amoy. Public 
notices on the corners of streets frequently invited the attention 
of passers-by to opium ' three winters old,' sold in the opposite 
houses. To the better class of these shops the servants of 
rich men might be seen resorting, in order to purchase the pre- 
pared drug, and to carry it in little boxes, or, if the quantity 
were moderate, on little bamboo leaves, to their masters for 
smoking at their own houses. They all asserted that they 
paid no bribes to the mandarins, saying that these also smoked 
opium, and, therefore, were prevented by shame from inter- 
fering with the people. They assented to the probability of 
bribes being paid to the native authorities by the large whole- 
sale purchasers, who go outside the harbor to buy opium from 
the foreign ships. Among other proofs of the full cognisance 
of the local authorities, as well as of the very general prevalence 
of opium smoking, may be mentioned the fact of persons be- 
ing met with in almost every street, who gain their entire live- 
lihood by manufacturing the bowls of opium pipes, which they 
publicly expose for sale in every direction." 

Dr. Ball, after having resided in Canton many years, with 
the best opportunities for observation, writes from that city, 
December 1850, in reference to the use of opium, as follows : 


« We do not know how far back into the country it has 
found its way, but there is reason to fear that it is well known 
and used to a very great extent along the sea-coast and up the 
large rivers. I am more and more convinced that we have as 
yet but a limited knowledge of the fearful ravages which this 
demon is making with the happiness, the property and the 
lives of the inhabitants. There is very good reason to believe 
that the smoking couch, the pipe, and other smoking apparatus, 
are found in many of the trading-houses and shops, and in the 
dwellings of the rich, and indeed of all ranks. In other words, 
these things are becoming fashionable. There are, besides, 
multitudes of smoking-shops, where the smokers meet by day 
and by night to refresh themselves with the fumes of this ex- 
hilarating stupefying drug, to pass a merry hour, or to drown 
their sorrows and their cares in a profound stupor. If those 
who are engaged in producing and vending this destructive 
poison, and are making their thousands out of the lives and 
property of this unfortunate people, could pass through these 
streets and see the withered, smoked, walking skeletons, (the 
smoker never, I believe, becomes more fleshy by the use of the 
opium ;) could they go to their dwellings and see families 
wretched and beggared by drugged fathers and husbands ; if 
they could see the multitudes, who have lost house and home, 
dying in the streets, in the fields, on the banks of the river, 
without even a stranger to care for them while alive, and when 
dead, left exposed to view till they become offensive masses ; 
if those who are directly or indirectly engaged in this trade 
could but witness such scenes, their souls would rise in indig- 
nation against a traffic so vile, so destructive to the lives, prop- 
erty and happiness of their fellow-creatures. They would 
abominate it and abandon it. The common feelings of hu- 
manity would prompt them to do it; for many, if not the 
majority, concerned in this trade are men from the better walks 
of life, and by no means destitute of the common sympathies 
of our nature.-' 

We might extend these quotations, detailing the effects of 
opium smoking as seen and described by various other travel- 
lers or residents in China, but deem it unnecessary. The 
witnesses we have already summoned cannot be accused of par- 


tiality or exaggeration in their descriptions, as they could have 
had no motive or inducement whatever to resort to any such 
means. Most of them were officers holding important trusts 
under the English government, and were well acquainted with 
the state of things in China, having resided there, some of 
them, twenty years. It will be seen that there is great simi- 
larity in these descriptions, though expressed in different 
language. While it may appear that the evidence already sub- 
mitted as to the evil effects of this drug was abundantly suffi- 
cient, still we wish to notice briefly its use in two places very 
differently situated from China. If we take for instance an 
island or province, where the population is permanent, with no 
great change or increase from abroad, and where the general 
use of opium has prevailed for ten years or more, we shall then 
have still stronger evidence of its pernicious effects. The 
Island of Formosa, situated in the Chinese seas, was visited in 
the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries by the Dutch and Por- 
tuguese merchants, and became a place of considerable trade 
and wealth. This island then had a noble race of people, 
distinguished for their industry and enterprise. But in the his- 
tory of Formosa, we find the following striking passage: — 
" The natives of this place were at first sprightly and active, 
and being good soldiers, were always successful in battle. But 
the people called Hung-maou (Red-haired) came thither, and 
having manufactured opium, seduced some of the natives into 
the habit of smoking it. From these the mania for it rapidly 
spread throughout the whole nation; so that, in process of 
time, the natives became feeble and enervated, submitted to 
foreign rule, and were ultimately completely subjugated. Now 
the English are of the race of foreigners called Hung-maou. 
In introducing opium into this country, their purpose has been 
to weaken and enfeeble the Central Empire. If not early 
aroused to a sense of our danger, we shall find ourselves, ere 
long, in the last step towards ruin." * 

The other place referred to, is Assam, a small province lying 
on the eastern frontier of Bengal, and added to the British 
possessions by conquest in 1825. Mr. Bruce, superintendent 

* See Chinese Repository, vol. v. p. 393. 


of the tea plantations in Assam, in his report presented a few 
years since to the East India Company, remarked as follows : 
" I might here observe, that the British government would 
confer a lasting blessing on the Assamese and the new set- 
tlers, if immediate and active measures were taken to put 
down the cultivation of opium in Assam, and afterwards to 
stop its importation. If something of this kind is not done 
and done quickly too, the thousands that are about to emi- 
grate from the plains into Assam, will soon be infected with 
the opium mania, that dreadful plague which has depopulated 
this beautiful country, turned it into a land of wild beasts, 
with which it is overrun, and has degenerated the Assamese 
from a fine race of people to the most abject, servile, crafty 
and demoralized race in India. This vile drug has kept and 
does now keep down the population, the women have fewer 
children compared with those of other countries, and the chil- 
dren seldom live to become old men, but in general die at 
early manhood ; very few old men being seen in this unfortu- 
nate country in comparison with others. But those who have 
resided long in this unhappy land, know the dreadful and im- 
moral effects which the use of opium produces on the native. 
He will steal,, sell his property, his children, the mother of his 
children, and, finally, even murder for it. Would it not be 
the highest of blessings, if our humane and enlightened gov- 
ernment would stop these evils, and save Assam, and all those 
about to emigrate into it as tea cultivators, from the dreadful 
results attendant on the habitual use of opium ? We should 
in the end be richly rewarded, by having a fine healthy race of 
men growing up for our plantations, to fell our forests, to clear 
the land from jungle and wild beasts, and to plant and culti- 
vate the luxury of the world. This can never be effected by 
the enfeebled opium consumers of Assam, who are more 
effeminate than women." 


In view of all these facts, the question naturally arises, 
What has China done to oppose the introduction or arrest 
the progress of such evils ? Has she ever, as a government, 
adopted any decided, systematic measures to prevent them ? 


It would seem, at first thought, that a nation so large and 
powerful might have easily abolished this entire traffic. 

What then has been the history of Chinese legislation upon 
this subject ? Prior to the year 1800, opium was included in 
the tariff of maritime duties under the head of medicinal 
drugs, and was treated by government as an article intended 
exclusively for medical purposes. And the duty exacted upon 
its importation was a mere nominal sum, without any par- 
ticular reference to raising a revenue. But the practice of 
smoking the "vile dirt'''' had already taken deep root, and its 
evil effects were beginning to awaken the attention of the 
Chinese government. In 1799, one of the Emperor's chief 
ministers, "fearing lest the practice of smoking opium should 
spread among all the people of the inner land, to the waste 
of their time and the destruction of their property," presented 
a memorial requesting that the sale of the drug should be 
prohibited, and that offenders should be made amenable to 
punishment. Soon after this, the Chinese government enacted 
special laws to prevent both its importation and its use, de- 
nouncing at the same time the severest penalties on the con- 
travention of their orders. In 1809, the Governor of Canton, 
then holding the seals of the commission of maritime customs, 
published an edict, requiring the Hong* merchants, when pre- 
senting a petition for a ship to discharge her cargo at Wham- 
poa, to give a bond that she had no opium on board ; and, in 
case of refusal, the vessel should not be permitted to land, but 
should be expelled from the port. 

In 1815, the governor of another province sent up a report 
to the Emperor, complaining that some traitorous natives had 
established themselves as dealers in opium at Macao ; and in 
reply, commands were given to carry the laws into vigorous 
execution. But the traffic was still carried on at these two 
cities, either by bribing or deceiving the local officers. Finding 
their laws ineffectual to prevent the importation or use of the 
drug, the government issued still more stringent prohibitions 

* The Hong merchants (Chinese) were twelve in number, licensed by govern- 
ment as intermediate agents in trade, between foreign merchants and the Chinese 
people, becoming responsible for the good conduct of the former, and, at the 
same time, securing to the Emperor the payment of all maritime duties. 


in 1820, and commenced in earnest to inflict the penalties of 
violated laws. This step forced the opium merchants to with- 
draw their ships from Macao and Whampoa, to Lintin, an 
island in the harbor, without the jurisdiction of the provincial 
governors. As one of the results of this change, foreigners 
were kept somewhat at a distance, and the Chinese them- 
selves became more active participators in the traffic. 

In 1830, '32 and '34, one edict after another was issued, 
declaring that the "injury done by the influx of opium and by 
the increase of those who inhaled it, was nearly equal to a 
general conflagration" and denouncing upon the seller and 
smoker of the poison, the bastinado, the wooden collar, im- 
prisonment, banishment, and the entire confiscation of his 
property ; yes, even more, the severer penalty of capital 
punishment, either by public decapitation or strangulation. 
But notwithstanding all this, the trade kept constantly in- 
creasing. A most foul system of bribery and corruption had 
been practised in every gradation of office to evade the laws. 
The love of gain had proved stronger than fidelity to the 
Emperor's commands. The "flowing poison" had been doing 
not only its work of death on the body of every one coming in 
contact with it, but it had penetrated deep into the soul, 
corrupting all the better faculties of the mind. In this state 
of things, Heu Naetse, Vice-President of the Sacrificial Court 
at Pekin, having closely watched for years the evil effects of 
the trade, both upon the Chinese people and officers, urged in 
a memorial to the Emperor that the traffic should be legalized, 
either by an exchange of commodities or by imposing a duty 
upon the importation of the drug, inasmuch as its introduction 
by smuggling could not be prevented. The Emperor con- 
sulted his ministers as well as the governors of the different 
provinces, most of whom opposed the legalization, and after a 
prolonged and thorough discussion of the whole subject, it 
was finally concluded to put a stop to the trade by enforcing 
rigorously the laws against it. As edicts and proclamations 
had thus far proved unavailing, it was resolved by the High 
Court at Pekin, to depute an Imperial Commissioner to 
Canton, clothed with the highest powers and authority. The 
officer chosen for this purpose was Lin, a man about fifty 


years of age, distinguished for his talents and literary acquire- 
ments, born and bred in one of the maritime provinces, and 
well acquainted with all the arts of foreigners. He was con- 
sidered a true patriot, of incorruptible honesty, in high favor 
with the Emperor, who is said to have personally communicated 
his instructions to him ; expressing at the same time, his "deep 
sense of the evils that had long afflicted his children by means 
of the flowing poison," and adverting to the future, paused, 
wept and said, "How, alas! can I go to the shades of my 
imperial father and ancestors until these direful evils are re- 

In March, 1839, Commissioner Lin arrived in Canton to 
enter upon his arduous and responsible duties, with the inten- 
tion to effect the "utter annihilation of the opium trade." 
Finding on examination that the fines, imprisonment, tortures 
and executions, which had occasionally been inflicted on the 
Chinese people, for violating the laws against selling or 
smoking the drug, had not perceptibly checked its traffic, he 
determined to lay the axe at the root of the tree. He gave 
orders at once, that no more passes or permits should be given 
to foreigners who wished to go from Canton to Macao or 
Whampoa, and commanded that all the opium, whether 
stored in the factories or on board of ships in the harbor, 
should be immediately surrendered. After issuing several 
edicts, he succeeded in compelling the merchants to give up 
20,283 chests of opium, and to sign a bond that they would 
forever cease from trading in the article, Lin forthwith dis- 
patched a messenger to the Emperor, requesting instructions 
as to the disposal of the drug; and in reply he was directed 
to destroy every chest near Canton, so that both the " natives 
of the Celestial Empire and foreigners might witness and be 
aware of the entire destruction of the destroying poison." 

The place selected for carrying into effect this order, was 
Chinkow, a few miles from Canton, lying on the water and 
convenient for transporting the opium. Mr. King, an Ameri- 
can merchant, was permitted to be present, and thus describes 
(Asiatic Journal, 1839) the place and manner of destroying 
the poison : — " The larger part of the foreground was covered 
by three vats of perhaps 75 feet by 150, each opening by 


sluices into the river. The chests of opium after being re- 
weighed and broken up, in the presence of high officers, were 
brought down to the vats ; the contents, ball after ball, broken 
down and crushed upon platforms raised on high benches 
above the water, and then pushed by the feet of the coolies 
into the receptacles beneath. A large number of men were 
employed in thus macerating the balls for some days with 
long rakes, until the whole became a fetid mud, when the 
sluices were raised, and the vats emptied into the river. 
Every precaution seemed to be used by the officers to ensure 
the complete destruction of the drug, the spot being well 
guarded, the workmen ticketed, etc. ; in fact, we turned from 
the scene fully satisfied that the work was being performed 
with rigid faithfulness, and much disposed to wonder that, 
while Christian governments are growing and farming this 
deleterious drug, this pagan monarch should nobly disdain to 
enrich his treasury with a sale that would not fall short of 
Rs. 20,000,000." 


This bold and decisive measure of Lin to suppress the 
opium traffic, led to a war between England and China, com- 
monly denominated the "Opium War." Without giving a 
detailed account of this war, we will briefly state the more 
prominent points at issue, together with some remarks as to 
its character and termination. The abstract right of the 
Chinese government to seize and destroy this opium was not 
called in question, either by English merchants or members of 
Parliament. Neither the fact, that the opium was smuggled 
into China, in violation of the laws of the nation, and there- 
fore forfeited, was made a subject of controversy. But various 
circumstances connected with the history of the trade, and the 
manner of seizing the opium, as well as the general treatment 
which foreigners received from the Chinese, became the prin- 
cipal grounds of complaint and pretexts for war. It was 
alleged that the Chinese had permitted the trade to go on 
almost forty years without strictly enforcing the laws, — that 
they had themselves become active participators in the traffic, 
— that most of the opium seized was on board of vessels 


beyond the jurisdiction of the Chinese government, and that 
holding certain English merchants as prisoners until the opium 
was all given up, and expelling others from Canton and Macao 
on suspicion of being concerned in the trade, was an insult to 
the English nation. Great austerity and exclusiveness, and 
many instances of violence practised by the Chinese in their 
intercourse with foreigners, were adduced as violations of the 
laws or established usages of all civilized nations. 

Another argument advanced in favor of this war, was to 
obtain indemnity for the loss of these 20,283 chests of opium, 
estimated to be worth $12,000,000. Capt. Elliot, the superin- 
tendent of trade, in his public call on British subjects to 
surrender all the opium in their possession into his hands, to 
be delivered over to the order of Commissioner Lin, declared 
himself responsible for its loss on behalf of her Majesty's gov- 
ernment. And accordingly the merchants, in confirmation of 
this pledge of Capt. Elliot, afterwards sent a petition to the 
Lords of her Majesty's government, urging the following 
reasons as a claim : — " That the trade in opium had been 
encouraged and promoted by the Indian government, under 
the express sanction and authority, latterly, of the British 
government and Parliament, and with the full knowledge 
also, as appears from the detailed evidence before the House 
of Commons on the renewal of the last charter, that the trade 
was contraband and illegal." 

The English government itself had, in fact, directly ap- 
proved of the traffic, and was deeply interested in its con- 
tinuance. For we find that the parliamentary committee, 
appointed in 1832, expressly for the purpose of considering 
the opium monopoly, in all its bearings, moral, political and 
economical, concluded their report, which was accepted, as 
follows : — "In the present state of the revenue of India, it 
does not appear advisable to abandon so important a source 
of revenue — a duty upon opium being a tax which falls prin- 
cipally upon the foreign consumer, and which appears upon 
the whole less liable to objection, than any other which could 
be substituted." The charter, therefore, of the East India 
Company was granted in 1833, with the express knowledge 
and understanding, on the part of Parliament, that the traffic 


in opium was to constitute a portion of its regular and legiti- 
mate business. Important changes were made in the condi- 
tions of the company as to its direction and control, by this 
new charter. Prior to 1833, it was merely a company of 
Traders, but afterwards it became the Representative, and, all 
its officers, the Agents of the English government for adminis- 
tering the affairs of British India. In 1833, the whole revenues 
of British India (including the opium monopoly) were in- 
vested in the company, in trust for the British crown, and, 
since that time, the greatest possible encouragement has been 
afforded to the manufacture of this drug. It is sold at Cal- 
cutta by the Board of Customs under the direction of 
government, and avowedly for the purpose of being exported 
to China. And in 1834, the very next year after the new 
charter, the Superintendent of British trade in China, in his 
despatches to the English government, speaks of the opium 
traffic as one " which it was of the most vital importance to 
cherish and protect." This advice has been well heeded now 
for almost, twenty years by the government of Great Britain. 
Thus we see that England was an interested party, and 
would naturally be disposed to justify recourse to war, in order 
to secure indemnity for loss and a continuance of the trade. 
The Chinese government had endeavored to arrest the traffic 
by punishing severely and in various ways their own subjects, 
and also remonstrating, entreating and threatening the Eng- 
lish, but all to no purpose. They saw their country and 
people becoming impoverished and ruined — the severe pun- 
ishment of their own subjects of no avail, so long as the 
English continued to sell thousands of chests of opium, in 
spite of entreaties and threats, and in contempt of all law. 
"What more could they do ? Nothing ? They might have 
attempted to take possession of the opium ships by force ; but 
this would have been attended with a fearful amount of 
bloodshed, as these opium storeships were all armed like 
ships of war and filled with desperadoes. The opium was all 
forfeited by being brought there contrary to the laws of the 
nation, and the harbors, where the opium ships were stationed 
were a part of the Chinese possessions and under their juris- 
diction as much as the land. The Chinese government had 


a right, by the laws of nations, forcibly, if necessary, to seize 
the opium. But they effected its surrender without violence 
or loss of life, and when they might have legally sold it for 
more than $12,000,000, they destroyed every chest of it, 
openly and publicly, disdaining to raise a revenue from the 
ruin of their own people. They could not therefore regard 
this war in any other light than an outrageous invasion of 
their rights and property. 

Many of the English at Canton and in India had long been 
desiring war, alleging that the Chinese had used violence upon 
their merchants, and would not open their ports generally to 
all kinds of trade ; but the secret cause of all this was kept , 
out of view as much as possible. The cry of war — war — 
was raised and re-echoed in every possible way. All circum- 
stances and means and pretexts were used to make a cause 
for war, and excite the nation to it. But the real cause of all 
these troubles — the opium trade — was as much as possible 
kept out of view. The Parliament and people of England, 
and of every country, must be mystified in all possible ways 
in respect to the Chinese troubles. The East India Company 
— including the great body of Europeans in India, and many 
thousands in England — were deeply interested in the matter, 
receiving a large revenue from this source. The opium 
traders and smugglers in China and India were of course 
interested to the amount of $12,000,000, the value of the 
opium which the Chinese had seized and destroyed. All 
parties concerned, except the Chinese government, wished 
also to continue the trade. Men who had so great interests 
at stake, whose characters also were implicated, would of 
course employ the best talents and all possible means that 
money could command — writers, attorneys and orators, to 
make the " worse appear the better cause." Numerous pam- 
phlets and reviews appeared on the subject, magnifying the 
grievances of the English, and finding all manner of fault 
with the conduct of the Chinese.. Still there were some noble 
exceptions. Several members of Parliament publicly exposed 
the evils of the opium trade, and resisted most strenuously all 
warlike measures. Said Lord Sandon : — " It is a disgrace to 
a Christian country to carry on the opium trade as we have 


done." Said W. H. Lindsay, P. M. : — " As it is, nothing can 
be more injurious to the British character, than the mode in 
which the opium trade is at present conducted. It is real 
smuggling accompanied by all its worst features of violence, 
and must frequently be attended with bloodshed and loss of 
life." And even Capt. Elliot, the representative of the English 
government in China, was constrained to make this confession 
in one of his messages : — " No man entertains a deeper 
detestation of the disgrace and sin of this forced traffic than 
the humble individual who signs this despatch. I see little to 
choose between it and piracy ; and it is rapidly staining the 
British character with the deepest disgrace." One of the 
leading Quarterlies at the time remarked on the subject as 
follows: — "We may deceive ourselves for the moment, but 
we shall not deceive our contemporaries, nor the next gene- 
ration. The Opium War will stand out in history as the 
blackest stain on the character of Britain, being an outrage on 
justice, on public principle, and on the independent rights of 

That the Chinese government has always been earnest and 
sincere in resisting the introduction of opium, there can be no 
doubt. Their laws prove this fact, and such is the testimony 
of all disinterested foreigners residing in China. Says a writer 
in the Chinese Repository (for 1840, p. 416) : — " The oppo- 
sition of the Chinese government to the opium trade has been 
steady and strong during a period of forty years ; the prohi- 
bitions have been as clear and as explicit, and the measures to 
carry them into effect as constant and vigorous, as the com- 
bined wisdom and power of the Emperor and his ministers 
could make them." They refuse also to allow the cultivation 
of the poppy in China, which in soil and climate is admirably 
fitted for its production. * If they would only allow the opium 
to be produced in China, its importation would soon cease, 
and thus a heavy drain of silver be saved to the nation. They 
will not, however, impose any tax or duty upon its importa- 
tion, though they might in this way raise a large revenue. 

* It should be stated, that the poppy is cultivated to some extent in Yunan and 
other provinces, in the southern part of China, but against the express laws of 
the Chinese government. 


And all proposals or suggestions in reference to encouraging 
the cultivation of the poppy, or that the trade in the drug be 
legalized, originated in the opinion and fear that its contra- 
band introduction could not be prevented. This is a lamentable 
state of things in a great nation like China, with 350,000,000 
of inhabitants. The Emperor, when urged to legalize the 
trade, replied in these memorable words: — " It is true," said 
he, " I cannot prevent the introduction of the flowing poison ; 
gain-seeking and corrupt men will, for profit and sensuality, 
defeat my wishes ; but nothing will induce me to derive a reve- 
nue from the vice and misery of my people." 

Much has been said respecting the anti-social and non-inter- 
course character and principles of the Chinese government. 
It was so when Europeans first went to China. They allowed, 
to some extent, commercial, but not political or diplomatic 
intercourse. This has been their foreign policy from time imme- 
morial. It seems to be interwoven as a part of their national 
character and existence. And has the conduct of Europeans 
been such as to overcome this prejudice and secure their con- 
fidence ? Look at the whole history of the opium trade for a 
half century and more. Has not this cause, more than any 
other, tended not only to perpetuate but also increase this ex- 
clusive and non-intercourse practice ? Again. What has been 
the history of Java, Assam, Ceylon, Eastern and Western 
India and other nations where Europeans had obtained free 
access ? Have not all these nations been subjugated by these 
foreign powers ? The Chinese knew these facts well. Was 
it strange then, that when such a fate befalling their neighbors 
stared them also in the face, they should persist more than 
ever in their non-intercourse policy ? Was not this their only 
resort, to avoid coming into hostile conflict with foreign na- 
tions? And was this a criminal thing, and did it afford any 
reason or justification for recourse to war ? It is not pretended 
but that, the Chinese were guilty of many grave and serious 
provocations to war, aside from this traffic ; their treatment of 
Lord Napier, and certain measures employed to obtain redress 
for evils, real or imaginary, inflicted upon them by foreigners, 
were highly censurable. But would the present war ever have 
arisen, had it not been for the English persisting in this smug- 


gling trade ? Sir George Staunton, than whom there is no 
higher authority in Britain, being thoroughly versed in Chinese 
history and affairs, declared in Parliament that, " If there had 
been no opium, there had been no war." 

The Chinese, being inexperienced in the tactics of modern 
warfare, soon found themselves overpowered by British arms, 
and were not disposed to continue long so unequal a contest. 
After several unsuccessful encounters, which threw four of their 
principal cities into the hands of their enemies, and finding 
Nanking blockaded, and Peking, the capital itself, threatened, 
Keying, High Commissioner of the Emperor, addressed a com- 
munication to Sir Henry Pottinger, commander of the British 
forces, requesting a cessation of hostilities, and soliciting an 
interview with reference to terms of peace. The articles of 
treaty proposed by the English plenipotentiary were: — 1st. 
Lasting peace between the two empires. 2d. The Chinese 
government to pay twenty-one millions of dollars before the 
expiration of three years, twelve being for the expenses of the 
war, three for debts due the English merchants, and six for the 
opium destroyed. 3d. The ports of Canton, Amoy, Fugli- 
chau, Ningpo, and Shanghai, to be thrown open to British 
trade and residence, under such restrictions as shall be satis- 
factory. 4th. The island of Hong Kong to be ceded to the 
Queen. 5th. All British prisoners to be released. 6th. All 
Chinese in the hands of the English to be pardoned and held 
guiltless. 7th. Correspondence to be conducted hereafter on 
terms of perfect equality^ 8th. When the treaty receives the 
Emperor's assent, and six millions of dollars are paid, the Eng- 
lish forces shall withdraw from the river and the places now 
occupied, but Chusan and Kulang to be retained till all pro- 
visions of the treaty are completed. 

After these several items had been discussed between the 
two parties, the trade in opium, the chief cause of their dis- 
turbances, was introduced. The Chinese anxiously inquire, 
" Why will you not prohibit the growth of the poppy in your 
dominions, and thus effectually stop so pernicious a traffic ? " 
" Your people must become virtuous and your officers incor- 
ruptible, and then you can stop the opium coming into your 
country," is the reply. The Chinese, conscious that their 


people had not moral principle enough to resist the use of the 
drug, nor physical force sufficient to prevent its introduction 
by smuggling, earnestly desired the adoption of some measure 
by the English themselves which would eradicate the evil, root 
and branch, and therefore pressed the question still more 
urgently. " Other people will bring it to you, if we stop the 
cultivation of the poppy ; if England chose to exercise so 
arbitrary a power over her tillers of the soil, it would not 
check the evil," adds the envoy. " You cannot do better 
than legalize its importation, and thereby limit, if not remove 
the facilities which now exist for smuggling." The Chinese 
acknowledged the plausibility of the argument, but expressed 
themselves persuaded that their master would never listen to 
a word on the subject. They were evidently disappointed 
that some proposition to put an end to this infernal traffic was 
not made a part of the articles of agreement; and, while appar- 
ently hesitating and raising objections on this point, it was 
intimated that any delay or refusal to accept the conditions 
already before them, would lead at once to a renewal of hos- 
tilities. Thus they were absolutely compelled to accede to 
just such terms as their enemies proposed, or else see their 
country plunged still deeper into all the horrors of a sanguin- 
ary war. 

There are two or three points in these articles of treaty, 
deserving more particular attention. We find of the twenty- 
one millions of dollars exacted of the Chinese, six put down 
as indemnity to the owners of the 20,000 chests of opium 
which were destroyed. According to the laws and usages of 
all civilized nations, contraband goods are liable to forfeiture 
and confiscation. This is the penalty invariably attached to 
the violation of such laws. * No one questioned for a mo- 
ment that the Chinese government had perfect right to enact 
such laws, and when violated to seize the smuggled article, if 
need be, vi et armis. But instead of selling the opium and 

* " The very idea of indemnifying smugglers who have lost their property by 
the just operation of the laws, which they violated, seems preposterous. They 
knew the risks they incurred; they were their own insurers ; they have reaped 
a profit in past years, and the total loss which they have now suffered, is only 
a deduction from those profits." — Asiatic Journal, 1839. 


depositing the proceeds in the public treasury, the Emperor 
ordered every chest to be publicly destroyed as an evidence 
of his detestation of the drug. The owners had been fore- 
warned again and again ; they knew full well what might 
justly be the consequence of their forbidden course. And why 
only half of the estimated value of the opium claimed ? The 
smugglers ought to have lost the whole in equity — all was 
forfeited. On what principles then of jurisprudence, or for 
what reasons was only half its value exacted ? Do the Eng- 
lish government ever pay for smuggled goods when seized? 
Do they ever destroy them when their use would be injurious 
to their people I 

This treaty required that five of the principal cities of China 
should be thrown open to British trade and residence under 
certain restrictions, which should be satisfactory to the English 
as well as the Chinese; and the island of Hong Kong to be 
ceded outright and forever to the Queen. The professed 
object of this provision was to open the chief ports of China 
for general trade and commercial intercourse, which might 
prove equally as beneficial to that nation as to others. But 
what has been its practical effect ? Has it not opened the 
door still wider, and given a more permanent foothold than 
ever for the opium traffic ? The Canton Circular of 1846, 
speaking of the high price which the drug brought at that 
time, very significantly remarked thus: — " We need not ask 
then the question, Who has been chiefly benefitted by the war 
in China, justly called the Opium War?" 

Hong Kong is an island, eight miles in length, and from two 
to four miles in breadth, near the mouth of Canton river, and 
thirty-seven miles eastward of Macao. It now contains a 
population of about 15,000, and, besides being very accessible 
to any part of the Chinese coast, possesses one of the best 
harbors in the world. The English selected this island as a 
great depot for trade, and have expended, according to Mr. 
Martin's estimate, six or eight millions of dollars on public 
improvements, such as roads, wharves, buildings, etc. Most of 
the English officers reside here, and are supported by govern- 
ment at an expense of more than two hundred thousand dollars 
annually. The salary of the governor alone is between thirty- 


two and thirty-three thousand dollars. The principal article 
of commerce carried on here is opium. Besides numerous 
shops and stores, several large receiving ships are stationed the 
year round in the harbor. In 1 845, an important event occurred 
here in the history of the trade, viz., Governor Davis licensed 
the public sale of opium by retail. Mr. R. M. Martin, then 
treasurer and member of the Executive Council, earnestly 
opposed the measure, and in his work on China already re- 
ferred to, vol. ii., p. 186, expresses his dissent in part in the fol- 
lowing strong language : — " Twenty opium shops have been 
licensed in Hong Kong, within gun-shot of the Chinese em- 
pire, where such an offence is death ! Hong Kong has now, 
therefore, been made the lawful opium smoking shop, where the 
. most sensual, dissolute, degraded, and depraved of the Chinese 
may securely perpetrate crimes which degrade men far below 
the level of the brute, and revel in a vice which destroys body 
and soul; which has no parallel in its fascinating seduction, in 
its inexpressible misery, or in its appalling ruin. When the 
Governor proposed the conversion of Hong Kong into a legal- 
ized opium shop, under the assumed license of our most gra- 
cious and religious sovereign, I felt bound as a sworn member 
of Her Majesty's Council in China to endeavor to dissuade 
him from this great crime ; but no reasoning would induce 
him to follow the noble example of the Emperor of China, 
who, when urged to derive a revenue from the importation of 
opium, thus righteously recorded his sentiments in an answer 
which would have been worthy of a Christian monarch : — ' It is 
true 1 cannot prevent the introduction of the flouting poison ; 
gain-seeking and corrupt men will, for profit and sensuality, de- 
feat my wishes ; but nothing will induce me to derive a revenue 
from the vice and misery of my people? But money was 
deemed of more consequence in Hong Kong than morality; it 
was determined in the name of Her Majesty to sell the per- 
mission to the highest bidder by public auction — of the 
exclusive right to poison the Chinese in Hong Kong — and to 
open a given number of opium smoking shops, under the pro- 
tection of the police, for the commission of this appalling vice. 
Would we have acted thus towards France or Russia, and 
established a smuggling depot on their shores in a prohibited 


and terrific poison? We dare not. Why then should we 
Legalize and protect this dreadful traffic on an island given to 
us by the government of China as a residence and for com- 
mercial intercourse ? " 

Thus, the war, instead of putting an end, or even a check 
to this evil, has actually afforded greater facilities for prosecut- 
ing the traffic. It was never in a more flourishing and vigor- 
ous state than at the present time. More than 50,000 chests are 
now annually shipped to China, taking off in return thirty-five 
millions of dollars, a sum greater by one half than is paid 
on the whole imports from all other countries. According to 
the most recent intelligence, it is estimated the sale will reach 
00.000 chests the present year. The article is landed all along 
the coast, and smoked publicly in the chief cities. And not- 
withstanding the supply has rapidly increased, the demand 
more than keeps pace with it ; and such in all probability will 
continue to be the case, for many years, if not ages, to come, 
unless Divine Providence should interpose to arrest its progress. 
The old laws prohibiting its use and traffic still remain un- 
changed. That their nature with the penalties attached may 
he correctly understood, we will here copy them as they now 
stand in the Xlth volume of the penal code of China: — 
" Dealers in opium shall be exposed with the wooden collar 
about their necks one month, and then sent to the army on the 
frontier. Accomplices shall be punished with a hundred blows 
and transported three years. Those who open shops to sell 
opium and entice the sons of respectable families to smoke, 
shall be condemned to death by strangling after a period of 
confinement. Accomplices shall be punished with a hundred 
blows and transported three years. Masters of boats, consta- 
bles, and neighbors shall be punished with a hundred blows 
and three years' transportation. Officers of government at 
court who buy and smoke opium, shall be dismissed from the 
service, receive a hundred blows, and exposed with the collar 
about their necks two months. Soldiers and common people, 
who buy and smoke opium, shall be punished with a hundred 
blows and exposed with the collar one month." 

But these laws, to all practical purposes, are a dead letter on 
their statute book. Since the war with England, scarcely any 


attempt whatever has been made by the Chinese to enforce 
them. Prior to this war, punishment for their violation was of 
very frequent occurrence. It is somewhat difficult to account 
for the present inactive course of the Chinese government, in 
respect to an evil which is exerting such a destructive influ- 
ence on that people. Dr. Williams remarks that " This 
conduct can be explained only on the supposition, , that 
having suffered so much, the Emperor and his ministers 
thought safety from future trouble lay in enduring what 
was past curing ; they had already suffered greatly in attempt- 
ing to suppress it, and another war might be caused by 
meddling with the dangerous subject, since too it was now 
guarded by well armed vessels. Public opinion was still too 
strong against, or else consistency obliged the monarch to 
forbid legalization, which he could hardly avoid acknowledging 
was the least of two evils." It is an easy thing for a govern- 
ment to pass laws interfering with people's appetites and 
tastes, but a very difficult thing to enforce such laws. Some 
portions of our own country, with a population as moral and 
orderly as can be found on the globe, understand this difficulty 
well, where laws have been enacted to suppress the sale of 
intoxicating drinks, the execution of which has encountered 
very powerful opposition. How much greater then must be 
this difficulty, among a population like the Chinese, in at- 
tempting to prohibit the sale and use of an article far more 
fascinating than ardent spirits, and especially when the princi- 
pal depredators, as in the present case, are relatively so great 
and powerful as the English ? 


The enormous profits which the East India Company and 
merchants receive from this traffic, constitute an important 
feature in its character, and distinguish it from all other 
articles of commerce. Connected with this fact is also 
another equally important, viz., the immense drain of specie 
from China. " The Friend of India," for July 26, 1849, 
printed at Serampore, and of the highest authority in matters 
of this kind, published the following facts bearing on this 
point : " The clear profit of the British government of India 


from the consumption of opium by the Chinese at the end of 
the official year, 1848-9, including of course the tax on Malwa 
opium at Bombay, will be found to have fallen little short of 
three crores and twenty lakhs of rupees, or three millions, two 
hundred thousand pounds sterling, ($15,488,000.) It is the 
most singular and most anomalous traffic in the world. To 
all present appearances, we should find it difficult to maintain 
our hold of India without it; our administration would be 
swamped by its financial embarrassments. Its effects on 
Chinese finances must be as disastrous as it is beneficial to 
our own. The trade is not legalized in China, and the drug 
is paid for in hard cash. The annual drain of the precious 
metals from China through this article is therefore between 
five and six millions sterling. No wonder that the Cabinet 
at Pekin are struck dumb by this 'oozing out' of silver, and 
that we hear, from time to time, of the most resolute deter- 
mination to extinguish the trade. But with more than a 
thousand miles of sea-coast to guard and so small a protective 
navy, and nine-tenths of the officers in it venal to a proverb, 
that Cabinet is helpless." 

Here we have a clear profit in one year to the British 
government in India, £3,200,000, or $15,488,000, which ac- 
crued from the sale of 54,000 chests of opium. The sales for 
the five previous years were as follows: — 1843-4, 39,847 
chests; 1844-5, 53,902; 1845-6, 38,217; 1846-7, 40,960; 
1847-8,43,901; amounting in all, with those of 1848-9, to 
270,827 chests, averaging 45,138 each year. Estimating the 
sales of the five first years at the same rate as those of 1848-9, 
(and we believe the average price obtained was considerably 
higher,) we have an annual revenue during the last six years 
to the East India Company of $12,946,247, amounting in all 
to nearly $80,000,000. The sales for 1850 and '51 were still 
greater:— At Bombay, 1850, 24,031 chests, and 1851, 24,673 ; 
at Calcutta, 1850, 34,860, and 1851, 34,014, making at both 
cities, 1850, 58,891 chests, and 1851, 59,687. This amount of 
sales makes an annual revenue of over $15,000,000, which, 
added to the preceding sum, gives us $110,000,000. Yes, 
besides the expense attending the production, transportation 
and sale of the drug in India, this single article of trade has 


yielded this vast sum of clear profit to the East India Com- 
pany, since the declaration of peace between China and 
England. Well might the writer of the above article fear, in 
case of its removal, that the British government would " find 
it difficult to maintain its hold in India, and that its adminis- 
tration there would be swamped by financial embarrassments.' 

The immense expenditure attending the use of this article 
in China, is a consideration of no ordinary importance. We 
have seen that the average number of chests sold from 1843 
to 1852, was over 48,800 per annum ; and according to the 
best authorities, the average price which the Chinese of late 
years have paid for opium has been $700 per chest. At this 
rate the annual expenditure would be $33,600,000, and for the 
last eight years, it would amount to $268,800,000. From a 
careful examination of the amount of opium sold during the 
six years immediately preceding the war, that is, from 1833 to 
1839, we find the average quantity to fall but little short of 
30,000 chests per annum, which, at $600* per chest, makes an 
annual expense of $18,000,000, and during this period of six 
years, the sum of $108,000,000. From 1823 to 1833, the 
average sale was 12,000 chests annually, which, at the same 
rate and for this period of ten years, amounts to $72,000,000 
more. If we now add the $21,000,000 which the Chinese 
paid the English government at the close of the war, for the 
destruction of the 20,000 chests of opium and also for losses 
by the Hong merchants, together with the expenses attending 
the war, we have the round sum of $469,800,000 ; nearly one 
half of which found its way directly into the treasury of the 
East India Company, and the remainder into the pockets of 
those engaged in the traffic. 

And we may safely calculate that the opium consumed by 
the Chinese, prior to 1822, cost them $10,000,000 more. We 
have then the immense sum of $480,000,000 expended by 

* In 1839, when the Chinese destroyed the 20,000 chests of opium, it was valued 
at $12,000,000, that is $600 per chest. This was considered at the time a 
moderate estimate ; no complaint was made against it on the part of the Chinese : 
since then the average price has not varied much from $700 per chest. The 
highest for which it was ever sold, was $2,650 per chest in 1821 ; and the lowest 
$360 in 1796. 



China, within the last half century, for this single article 
alone; and all this too in express violation of the repeated 
edicts of the Emperor. There are, in addition, the perquisites 
or bribes paid to local officers and the profits of the retailer, 
which undoubtedly would annually increase the expense from 
$8,000,000 to $10,000,000 more. The exact amount of profit 
made in the retail trade cannot be definitely stated, as it must 
vary at different times and places, and then it depends upon a 
variety of circumstances, which it is very difficult to investi- 
gate. But from a careful examination of all the means at 
our command, we are satisfied that it must on an average 
considerably exceed twenty-five per cent. And what return 
of commodity or equivalent in value does this immense outlay 
bring to China? Nothing! No, nothing but loss of health, 
waste of property, mental imbecility, moral degradation, and 
destruction of life. These evils cannot be reckoned in dollars 
and cents : figures and language both utterly fail to portray 
their magnitude and extent. 

The clear profit to merchants engaged in the traffic, is 
represented by Mr. Martin to average about 15 per cent. It 
is stated that in consequence of realizing such sure gains, in 
so short a time and with so little trouble in the opium trade, 
they are unwilling to embark in any other branch of commerce 
or business. It should be borne in mind that cargoes of 
opium, in point of value and certainty of sale, are very unlike 
those of all other goods. The vessels that transport the drug 
from India to China, generally carry from 800 to 2000 chests, 
which, selling at $700 per chest, will produce in return from 
$500,000 to $1,400,000. In 1848 one ship carried 1800 chests 
from Bombay to Hong Kong, and sold it for $750 per chest, 
receiving for this single cargo $1,350,000. The steam-ship 
Ganges sailed from Bombay, November, 1852, to Hong Kong 
with 2500 chests, the sale of which at the same rate would 
amount to $1,875,000. Suppose a vessel carries 1000 chests 
and sells for $700,000 ; this at 15 per cent, would net the 
owner $105,000, and 2000 chests twice that amount. We 
will mention in illustration only one instance of the immense 
wealth obtained in this way. Mr. Jardine, (of the firm of 
Jardine, Matheson & Co.) being about to return to England 


a few years since, divided with his partners £3,000,000 (almost 
$15,000,000) of profit in trade, the greater portion of which had 
been accumulated in the space of ten years. 

How true it is that, ever since the world began, the com- 
merce which has reckoned among its articles the bodies and 
souls of men, has been most lucrative, whether it be in one 
that deals directly in flesh and bones as so much merchandise, 
or one which tempts with poisonous drugs and fiery drinks. 

It should be borne in mind, also, that the profits received by 
merchants from this traffic are divided among a small number 
residing in China, India, and England. The profits received 
by the East India Company, amounting to almost one half of 
the whole receipts, go, not only to enhance the value of its 
capital stock, but to support the Indian government, its numer- 
ous officers, its large army, navy, etc. The expenditures of 
Great Britain in carrying on its commercial and political oper- 
ations in the East Indies are immense, and constantly increas- 
ing. To sustain these extensive operations requires a very great 
revenue. It would not answer to tax the home government for 
such purposes. This revenue must be raised from some for- 
eign source. 

Wm. Sturgis, Esq., of Boston, whose experience in the 
China trade, though not in opium, extends back more than 
half a century, in a lecture delivered not long since before the 
Boston Mercantile Library Association, stated, that in 1818, 
$7,000,000 in specie was carried from the United States to 
China to pay our importations from that country, but now, 
most all our purchases are paid by bills of exchange on Eng- 
land, from the proceeds of the opium trade. This fact may 
serve to explain the manner in which trade is carried on with 
China. Formerly the exports of that nation were far greater 
than the imports. From 1800 to 1830, European nations and the 
United States were obliged to ship every year large quantities 
of specie to China in payment for silks, teas, and other mer- 
chandise. But the opium trade — taking the place of all 
useful articles of manufacture, or of any other production — 
increased to such an extent that, soon after 1830, the balance 
of trade was turned against China. Consequently this bal- 
ance of trade in the regular exchange of commodities must be 


paid in specie, and is just so much drain on the bullion of 
China. Dr. Williams states that, from 1835 to 1850, it aver- 
aged yearly more than $15,000,000, which would amount in 
this period to more than $200,000,000. It is true, however, 
that all the opium sold in China is paid for in specie, but then 
only about one third of it actually leaves that country. The 
balance is taken to brokers at Canton or Hong Kong, and 
converted into what are termed " Bills of Exchange," which 
are used in China by merchants in payment for teas, silks, and 
other commodities. These bills of exchange are frequently 
brought to India and also to England, and are used in London, 
Liverpool, and other cities in the way of trade with China. 

There is one other important fact stated in the paragraph 
already quoted, viz., the inability of the Chinese government 
to enforce its laws. This inability arises mainly from three 
causes. 1st, From the character of the Chinese people as 
affected by the article in trade ; and 2dly, from the peculiar 
exposure of the country ; and 3dly, from the present state of 
its government. The Chinese people have naturally excessive 
acquisitiveness and fondness for those temporary enjoyments 
which do not require great efforts of body or mind. Besides, 
they have never been trained to the rigid exercise of moral 
principle or decision of character. Large rewards therefore in 
the way of bribes appeal powerfully to their love of gain, and 
when once they have tasted the bewitching pleasure of this 
drug, they readily yield to the temptation. And the longer 
such habits are indulged, the more powerful the control of the 
propensities over the intellect and conscience. Thus all, 
whether bribed or engaged in vending, or using the " flowing 
poison," become more and more corrupt. Such persons will 
resort to all manner of expedients to evade law ; and no de- 
pendence whatever can be placed in them, either as individuals 
or officers. What can a government do with such subjects, in 
a country too of more than one thousand miles of sea-coast, 
indented with numerous harbors, inlets and rivers, inviting the 
wholesale opium smuggler with his richly laden vessel, armed 
with all the forces which wealth and skill can command — a 
country moreover, whose seaports, villages and coasts, are con- 
tinually thronged by millions of inhabitants goaded on by an 


insatiable craving for this fascinating drug — a country defended 
by an army and navy always small, but rendered inefficient and 
treacherous by this very poison itself, and with nine tenths of 
its own governmental officers venal — surely a cabinet with 
such subjects, with such defences and such agents, must be 
helpless indeed ! 


We have already seen what an immense drain of specie this 
traffic annually makes on China. Though she always received 
small supplies from tributary provinces, her mines originally 
must have ranked among the richest in the known world. But 
to such an extent has this drain been carried, that many of the 
older mines are now entirely exhausted, and government by 
the last reports was actually engaged in making surveys to 
discover new ones. Dr. Williams states the following impor- 
tant fact, that " The opium trade has been for fifteen years 
nearly fifteen millions of dollars in excess of the regular ex- 
change of commodities, and the drainage of the country for this 
balance will probably go on as long as the taste for this per- 
nicious narcotic continues or there is specie to pay for it." 
Thus we see, that, notwithstanding the immense quantities of 
tea and silks which are annually exported from China, their 
value does not begin to equal the expenditure for opium, an 
article of luxury, or rather of destruction, which brings no equiv- 
alent in return. Another recent writer represents the finances 
of China to have been in an embarrassed state for several 
years past, caused by a diminution of its revenue, but which 
some attribute, with more reason, to the vast quantity of silver 
which leaves the country to pay for the opium smuggled into 
the Celestial Empire by the English. And may not this be 
one of the agencies which look towards the downfall of that 
great nation ? May it not be one of the principal causes of 
the numerous rebellions and outbreaks of violence which have 
lately occurred in China? 

Besides this constant drain of silver in diminishing the re- 
sources of China, the consumption of opium operates power- 
fully in other ways to impoverish the country. Political 
economists make the wealth of a nation to be made up of the 


wealth of all the individuals composing it ; and that the 
original sources of wealth are three — labor, land, and capital. 
Whatever lessens either of these, or their productiveness when 
employed upon each other, lessens the wealth of the whole 
nation. Capital may be employed in two ways, either to pro- 
duce new capital or merely to afford gratification, and in the 
production of that gratification, may be consumed without 
replacing its value. The first may be called capital, but the 
last expenditure. If the first is large, the last will be small, 
and vice versa. Without any change in the amount of wealth, 
capital will be increased by the lessening of expenditure, and 
lessened by the increase of expenditure. Let us apply these 
well established principles in political economy to the use of 
opium: — A man buys a quantity, and smokes it, when he 
would be better without it. The expense of the article and 
the time employed in obtaining and smoking it are an entire 
loss. His labor also becomes less productive. The capital of 
course produced by his labor is diminished. And the expendi- 
ture goes on constantly increasing, while the capital is at the 
same time constantly diminishing, thereby impoverishing the 
individual more and more. Such is the simple history of 
millions of cases in China. And such is the natural and ne- 
cessary tendency of the abuse of this narcotic from beginning 
to end. Its use in this way is a palpable and gross violation 
of all correct principles of political economy, and must tend 
inevitably and powerfully to diminish all the sources of na- 
tional wealth. The impoverishment will appear still more 
striking, if we bear in mind that its use is confined mainly to 
men, who are always considered the greatest producers, and 
who, after having formed the habit, live on an average only ten 
or twelve years. 

The Canton Circular for 1846, a commercial paper, speaking 
of the state and prospects of trade generally in China, remarks 
that, " With respect to the opium trade, as at present conducted, 
it is certainly a great evil, and indirectly injures the sale of 
other merchandise.'' 1 This evil prejudices the Chinese against 
all commercial intercourse with foreigners, and destroys all de- 
sire or ambition on their part to improve their circumstances 
or cultivate habits of industry, besides stripping them of all 


their resources. Had the influence of this drug never been 
felt in China, we have good evidence to believe that it would 
have proved the best market in the world, for the sale of 
European and American manufactures. It is a fact, that in 
proportion as the opium traffic has increased, that in British 
manufactures has decreased. It has been said that the Chi- 
nese were adverse to commercial intercourse with foreign 
nations ; but what is the evidence in proof of this statement ? 
Lord Napier, whose testimony is entitled to the greatest re- 
spect, wrote in the year 1834, that " The Chinese are most 
anxious to trade with us;" and again, " It is a perfect axiom 
that the Chinese people are most anxious for our trade, from 
the great Wall to the southern extremity of the empire." Sir 
George Robinson also states that, in 1835, " The people are 
intensely desirous to engage in traffic." Mr. GutzlafY affirms 
that " English woollens are in great demand, yet we have still 
to look for that time, when the spirit of British enterprise shall 
be roused, for in regard to China it is almost dormant." Lord 
Napier indeed, said, that the " Tartar Government was anti- 
commercial." It may be so. But why is not commerce 
carried to the fullest extent of the privileges which are pos- 
sessed? Simply, as Capt. Elliot stated, because the opium 
traffic is " intensely mischievous to every branch of trade." 
Mr. Dunn, who spent many years among the Chinese, says, 
" They possess a strong predilection for commerce, and a great 
taste for foreign manufactures. The principal barrier to the 
rapid increase in the consumption of British goods is, I con- 
ceive, the opium trade. Stop this, and you will have their 
warmest friendship — a friendship that will so facilitate and 
increase the consumption of your manufactures, that a few 
years only would show them to be your best customers." Mr. 
R. B. Forbes, an American merchant, in some excellent re- 
marks upon the " China trade," states that the abolition of the 
opium traffic would enable us (Americans) to dispose of a 
large quantity of manufactured goods in that country. Mr. 
Martin inquired of one of the chief officers at Shanghai, how 
trade could be best promoted; he immediately, and with great 
sternness, answered, "Cease sending- us millions' 1 worth of opium, 
and then our people will have more money to purchase your 


The recent discoveries of great quantities of gold in Cali- 
fornia and Australia will, in process of time, be productive of 
an immense amount of commerce upon the Pacific ocean, and 
vastly increase the population in all those parts of the world. 
China cannot fail to be greatly benefitted by these discoveries, 
and changes in trade as well as in population, and will become 
by these means more and more open to foreign intercourse. 
Her inhabitants will be inclined as well as able to purchase 
far more than they have hitherto done, the manufactures and 
productions of other nations. And such is the enterprise, the 
industry, and the love of gain among the Chinese, that an 
immense trade will ere long spring up between this great 
nation and other civilized portions of the globe, — more par- 
ticularly with Great Britain and the United States. Already 
are the suspicions of the former nation excited in reference to 
the prospective changes of trade in those parts of the world. 
A leading paper of London lately called the attention of the 
British public to the increasing trade of this country in the 
East, and, with other observations, made the following re- 
mark: — " America is seeking for the commerce of China by 
California, and for that of the Indus by the opposite coast ; 
and, in the race of competition before us, it is a problem 
whether our rival, trading with independent countries, and 
with races of men that are comparatively wealthy, because 
they are free, will not beat us from the markets, confining us 
to the internal trade of impoverished India." 


Another feature of this trade deserves particular notice, viz., 
its smuggling character. All enlightened and even civilized 
nations have ever regarded it as a fundamental principle, that 
a nation may enact whatever laws of commerce its interests 
may be supposed to require. It has a right* to permit or 
restrict, to encourage or prohibit any articles of merchandise it 

* This principle or right is based on the common usage of all nations, and not 
on that great principle of Christian Ethics, "Love thy neighbor as thyself/' 
The extreme exclusiveness and arrogant assumptions of the Chinese in their 
treatment of other nations, cannot in all instances be justified by the funda- 
mental principles of Christianity or of universal brotherhood. 


may deem necessary. Any known or intended infringement 
or violation of this right by another nation is and should be 
considered one of the greatest national crimes. And to take 
advantage of the peculiar circumstances of a nation, and force 
it to yield partially or wholly this right to its great detriment, 
is, to say the least, highly dishonorable. How has this estab- 
lished right been respected by the English government in its 
intercourse with China in the sale of opium ? At first, and so 
long as it was employed for medicinal purposes only, its 
importation with a small duty was allowed. But when it 
began to be used somewhat extensively for its intoxicating 
qualities, followed by the most pernicious effects, not only 
in draining the country of its legal currency, and thereby 
deranging trade generally, but in the loss of time, health, 
property, mental and physical capacity for labor, and greatly 
increasing theft, fraud, licentiousness, violence and premature 
death, the Chinese government, to prevent these dreadful evils, 
and save their country from ruin, utterly prohibited its im- 
portation, thus making it a contraband article. 

Their right to do this has never been called in question, as 
there was no violation of treaty stipulation, and the interests 
of the country being jeopardized, required such a measure. 
But it was entirely disregarded. The drug has been smuggled 
into that country in rapidly increasing quantities for more 
than fifty years, in face of wholesome laws, earnest remon- 
strances and severe threatenings, and the direful effects on the 
inhabitants of China, all of which was well known to the 
parties concerned. Having borne these constantly augmenting 
evils for forty years, the Chinese government attempted to 
apply a remedy, not by punishing British, but Chinese smug- 
glers, and by destroying the condemned drug, wherever found 
within their limits. Thereupon England declared war against 
China, and after having destroyed an immense amount of 
property and killed thousands of her subjects, agreed on terms 
of peace, compelling the injured party to pay all the expenses 
of the war and the value of the opium destroyed, without 
even allowing that party to have the pernicious drug declared 
in the treaty a contraband article. And still the work of 
death is carried on more vigorously than ever by British 


merchants, sustained and encouraged by the British govern- 
ment, through its representative, the East India Company. 
A system of smuggling on a grander scale and with greater 
profits, followed at the same time with more disastrous results, 
the world has never witnessed. What a spectacle ! An en- 
lightened nation having interwoven into the very texture of 
its government the principles of Christianity, and yet in view 
of all the nations of the earth, not merely trifling with, but 
trampling in the dust a great national acknowledged right, 
and pouring in unnumbered and direful evils upon more than 
three hundred millions of unenlightened and unchristianized 
persons, against the most earnest remonstrances and severest 
threats of their constituted government. In view of such 
treatment, what opinions and impressions must these three 
hundred millions of pagans form of such a nation ? Should 
such a course of conduct prevail among the nations of the 
earth, utter ruin both of governments and people must in- 
evitably ensue.* 


There is still another important view of this trade which 
ought not to be overlooked — its moral and religious bearings. 
It exerts a powerful influence among the Chinese in three 
ways to prevent the introduction and spread of Christianity : 
— 1st, It creates insuperable prejudices; 2d, Is the parent of 
many other vices ; and 3d, Depraves, if not destroys their moral 
natures. The epithets which they apply to the article itself 
are a proof of this prejudice — "smoking dirt," "vile dirt," 
" flowing poison," " black commodity," " black dirt," etc. etc. 
And the peculiar traits of character which they attribute to 
dealers in the drug show also the strength of their prejudices, 
and how difficult it is for them to think of imitating the ex- 
ample of such persons, or to receive " any good thing " from 
such a source. This prejudice is manifested still more strik- 
ingly in the interviews of the Chinese with the professed 
teachers of religion. Dr. Medhurst, who lived for many 

* " We know it is a smuggling trade, one which the Indian government, could 
the case be reversed, and the Chinese send opium to India, would put down by 
the halter." — Madras Athenceum, Feb., 1848. 


years in China and visited its principal maritime cities, says : 
— " Almost the first word uttered by a Chinese when anything 
is said concerning the excellence of Christianity is, ' Why do 
Christians bring us opium, and bring it directly in defiance of 
our laws ? The vile drug has destroyed my son, has ruined 
my brother, and well nigh led me to beggar my wife and chil- 
dren. Surely those who import such a deleterious substance, 
and injure me for the sake of gain, cannot wish me well, or be 
in possession of a religion better than my own. Go first and 
persuade your own countrymen to relinquish this nefarious 
traffic and give me a prescription to correct this vile habit, and 
then I will listen to your exhortations on the subject of Chris- 
tianity.' " The Rev. Dr. Smith, (now Bishop of Hong Kong,) 
in a speech before the Church Missionary Society, London, 
1847, remarked on this point as follows : — " If those who pro- 
fess to doubt the magnitude of this obstacle to the progress of 
Christianity in China, could hear the more patriotic of the 
Chinese, frequently with a sarcastic smile, ask the missionaries 
whether they were connected with those individuals who brought 
them poison, which so many of their countrymen ate and per- 
ished — they would perceive it is vain — I will not say it is 
vain — but it is certainly inconsistent in us as a nation to send 
the Bible to China. The same breeze that wafts the Christian 
missionary to that benighted land,, brings on its wings the ele- 
ments of moral destruction in that illegal traffic, which stamps 
with inconsistency the country of Christian missions." 

The Rev. Mr. Talmadge, stationed as a missionary at Amoy, 
in a letter dated Oct. 1850, describes the opium trade " as the 
great curse of the country ; destroying property, health and 
morals, and consigning the soul to eternal death ; and what is 
peculiarly painful is the fact, that this nefarious trade is carried 
on by men from Christian lands ; so that the leading idea 
which the Chinese have of the Christian religion is, that it 
permits its votaries to violate all law, and promote habits 
which even the heathen class with the lowest vices. Wherever 
we go, in the cities and villages, we are continually liable to 
be questioned about opium. It is a great hindrance to the 
progress of the gospel among the Chinese." 

The American missionaries, in a report of their labors at 


Canton, published in the Missionary Herald, for June, 1850, 
refer to this subject as follows : — 

" Before closing this communication, we wish to advert to 
the obstacles we encounter in the opium trade, and the exten- 
sive use among the Chinese of this drug. This most seductive 
vice is on the increase, carrying poverty and disease wherever 
it goes, and is rapidly impoverishing the empire. We have 
only a limited knowledge of the evil which this practice occa- 
sions ; but what we see, proves conclusively its bad effects. It 
is draining the country of specie, at the rate of about twelve 
millions of dollars annually, and that too from a land where no 
national bank, or system of credit, enables the government or 
people to get along with a substitute for the precious metals. 
The contraband trade in opium induces a disregard of all law, 
and leads to smuggling in other articles ; while it raises up and 
encourages a set of miscreants and pirates along the coast, 
who are too ready to act against their own authorities in con- 
nection with the foreign vessels bringing the article on the 
coast. It places a temptation to indulgence before a people, 
who have confessedly but little principle to resist even what 
they know to be wrong, and thus does much to destroy all 
moral rectitude and strengthen habits of vice. Its use, as well 
as its abuse, destroys property, health, intellect and life, either 
partially or wholly, and has done so already in a great degree. 
And, lastly, its introduction constantly sets against us the best 
portion of the Chinese people, who associate foreigners of 
every name and occupation with this pernicious traffic." 

In the Memoirs of Rev. W. M. Lowrie, who had spent sev- 
eral years as a missionary in China, and was drowned in the 
Chinese seas, Aug. 1847, being thrown overboard by pirates, 
we find, p. 207, this statement: — " One of the very greatest 
difficulties in the way of Christian missions in China, arises 
from the prevalence of the use of opium, and it is to be feared 
that it will long continue in the way. When a man acquires 
a taste for opium, there is nothing he will not do to gratify it; 
and its use is most deleterious. It injures his bodily health, it 
stupefies his mental powers, and it deadens his moral feelings, 
and when the habit of using it is once confirmed, it is almost 
impossible to abandon it. The fondness for opium is one of 


the strong chains in which Satan has bound this great people, 
and it is a heart-sickening reflection that this evil luxury is sup- 
plied to them by the merchants of the two nations which pro- 
fess to be actuated by the purest Christianity." Dr. Malcolm 
also, in his Travels in Southeastern Asia, vol. ii., p. 159, in remark- 
ing on the influence of the opium trade, says, " We have little 
reason to wonder at the reluctance of China to extend her 
intercourse with foreigners ; nearly the whole of .such intercourse 
brings upon her pestilence, poverty, crime and disturbance. 
No person can describe the horrors of the opium trade. The 
influence of the drug on China is more direful and extensive 
than that of rum in any country, and worse to its victims than 
any outward slavery. That men of correct moral sensibilities 
and enlightened minds, should be so blinded by custom or 
desire of gain as to engage in this business, is amazing. . . . 
That the government of British India should be the prime 
abettors of this abominable traffic, is one of the greatest 
wonders of the nineteenth century. The proud escutcheon of 
the nation that declaims against the slave trade, is thus made 
to bear a blot broader and darker than any other in the Chris- 
tian world." 

That this traffic is the parent of many vices, and debases 
the moral nature of man, thereby furnishing a most powerful 
obstacle to the spread of Christianity, requires but little proof 
after the detailed account of the evils which we have already 
presented. A single practice that necessarily and invariably 
begets in rapid succession, idleness, poverty, fraud, dishonesty, 
licentiousness, theft, piracy, and even murder, needs yet a 
word in any language fully to characterize it. The whole 
physical system is prostituted, the intellect stupified, the con- 
science perverted, and the will brought into complete subjec- 
tion to one all-controlling passion, converting its possessor into 
a brute — nay more, a sot! Such characters surely must 
afford almost hopeless materials for Christianity to reach and 


What is to be the probable result of this traffic upon China, 
is a question of momentous interest, How long is it to con- 


tinue to drain the country of its specie — embarrass its finances 
— corrupt its officers — impoverish and ruin its inhabitants ? 
Are the difficulties attending this contraband trade still to be 
the occasion of frequent broils and interruptions of commer- 
cial intercourse as in years past, between the Chinese and for- 
eigners ? Must there be another opium war ? Is this ancient 
and extensive country to be ruined commercially, politically 
and morally ? .Will the Chinese suffer the devastations of 
this evil to go on till the great Celestial Empire with her three 
hundred and fifty millions of inhabitants lose, like some neigh- 
boring provinces, her own independence and become tributary 
to a foreign power ? Or, to escape such a melancholy fate, will 
her government either resort to the extensive cultivation of the 
poppy within her own borders, or else legalize the importation 
of the drug from abroad? Are there any rational prospects 
that China will ever extricate herself from these dreadful evils ? 
We are constrained to reply, that neither the light of experi- 
ence nor the prospects of the future afford us any well-grounded 
hopes of such a desirable result. 


Who is responsible then for the continuance of these evils? 
And who has power, and to whom does the duty belong to put 
an end to this dreadful traffic? — the merchants engaged in 
carrying it on ? — or the East India Company, whose treasury 
is so much enriched by its profits? — or the English govern- 
ment that confers upon this company such chartered privileges ? 
Formerly the whole trade — not only in India, but the trans- 
portation to, and the sale of the drug in China, was a complete 
monopoly of government; but now that monopoly is confined 
to India, whence all the supplies come, and where government 
has the entire control of its cultivation, manufacture and sale, 
which it can at any time either abandon or prohibit. But we 
have no reason whatever to expect that the merchants will vol- 
untarily relinquish a traffic so lucrative, nor that the East India 
Company (an incorporated body, in common parlance, with- 
out a soul,) will totally change its revenue laws, which have 
been constantly increasing its resources for more than fifty 
years. We must then look to the English government as 


primarily and chiefly responsible for this traffic, and to Parlia- 
ment in particular. Clarkson and Wilberforce, by their devoted 
and unwearied labors to abolish slavery in the British posses- 
sions, won immortal fame ; but here is an evil of far greater 
magnitude, enslaving the souls as well as the bodies of many 
millions, fostered too for more than half a century by govern- 
ment itself. As the East India Company is this very year to 
petition Parliament for a renewal of its charter, who will 
fearlessly come forward, like Clarkson and Wilberforce, to ex- 
amine into this evil, expose its terrible effects and call for their 
removal ? 

How can the Chinese regard the English in any other light 
than wholesale smugglers and wholesale dealers in poison ? 
The latter can expend annually over two millions of dollars 
on the coast of Great Britain to protect its own revenue laws, 
but at the same time set at bold defiance similar laws of pro- 
tection enacted by the former. The English are constantly 
supplying the Chinese a deadly poison', with which thousands 
yearly put an end to their existence. In England even the 
druggists are expressly forbidden to sell arsenic, laudanum or 
other poison, if they have the least suspicion that their cus- 
tomer intends to commit suicide. But in China every facility 
is afforded and material supplied under the British flag, and 
sanctioned by Parliament itself, for wholesale slaughter. How 
long will an enlightened and Christian nation continue to farm 
and grow a means of vice, with the proceeds of which even, 
when in her possession, a benighted and pagan nation disdains 
to replenish her treasury, being drawn from the ruin and mis- 
ery of her people ? Where is the consistency or humanity of 
a nation, supporting armed vessels on the coast of Africa to 
intercept and rescue a few hundred of her sons from a foreign 
bondage, when, at the same time, she is forging chains to hold 
millions on the coast of China in a far more hopeless bond- 
age? And what must the world think of the religion of a 
nation that consecrates churches, ordains ministers of the 
gospel, and sends abroad missionaries of the cross, while, in 
the meantime, it encourages and upholds a vice which is daily 
inflicting misery and death upon more than four millions of 
heathen ? And what must be the verdict of future generations, 


as they peruse the history of these wrongs and outrages ? Will 
not the page of history, which now records £20,000,000 as con- 
secrated on the altar of humanity to emancipate 800,000 
slaves, lose all its splendor and become positively odious, when 
it shall be known that this very money was obtained from the 
proceeds of a contraband traffic on the shores of a weak and 
defenceless heathen empire, at the sacrifice, too, of millions 
upon millions of lives ? 



The following is an extract from the Friend of India, published at Serampore 
on the increase of the opium revenue in Bengal. This measure, considered in 
its consequences, must excite feelings of sorrow in every philanthropist. How 
painful to see a Christian government encouraging a trade for pecuniary reasons 
which a Heathen government for moral reasons is endeavoring to prevent. 
The Chinese laws prohibit the importation of opium under severe penalties, 
but the government is afraid to enforce these laws upon those trading under the 
English flag, lest they should be again involved in an "opium war." They 
must suffer the trade to go on, impoverishing their country and debasing the 
character of their people, or legalize the importation of opium and allow it to 
be cultivated in their own territory, both of which they believe to be morally 

[From the Friend of India, November 25, 1852.] 

" The notification regarding the quantity of opium to be brought to sale 
during the ensuing twelvemonth, has just appeared in the Calcutta Gazette, and 
we find that it will fall little short of 40,000 chests. The last sale realized 
1140 Rs. the chest; and the average of the year has been, we think, about 
1000 Rs. We have, therefore, the prospect of a gross income of more than 
£4,000,000 sterling from the opium of the Gangetic valley in the ensuing 
twelve months, and as the returns from the Malva opium were stated by Mr. 
Melville at 80 lakhs, we may calculate on a gross return of .£5,000,000 
sterling from this source, of which £3,750,000 will be clear profit. 

" The returns from the sale of the drug here, and from the opium passes at 
Bombav, are therefore equal to nearly one fifth of the gross revenues of the 
British empire in India. The revenue thus drawn from the peculiar propen- 
sities of a distant foreign nation is the most singular fiscal phenomenon to be 
found in the history of finance ; but the revenue itself is not less precarious 
than it is singular. It is, of course, well known that opium may be grown in 
great abundance in many parts of China. The cultivation of it, however, is as 
strictly forbidden as its importation, but as the Chinese government is much 
stronger in the interior of the country than on the line of coast, it is enabled to 


enforce the prohibition in its various provinces, while at the same time it is 
utterly powerless regarding the opium introduced by sea. We cannot but 
suppose that the Chinese will some time or other take into consideration the 
utter impossibility of restraining the importation of opium, which, while it con- 
tinues contraband, must be paid for in silver, and will therefore grant permission 
for the introduction of the drug. 

" In that case, we must bid adieu to our opium income of three or four millions 
sterling a year, and turn about for some other source of revenue, and this it 
will be no easy matter to discover. It is a cause of legitimate anxiety that we 
should be obliged to depend for our regular expenditure on so precarious a 
revenue. Since our military expeditions began in 1838, we have, with occa- 
sional intervals, been engaged in a constant succession of wars in A Afghanistan, 
in Scinde, in Gwalior, in the Punjab, and in Burmah, but it is a fact not 
generally recognised that during these fourteen years of warfare, the net profit 
derived from opium in Bengal and Bombay has exceeded the entire expense of 
all our military expeditions. It was said that Arkwright and the spinning 
jennies carried us through the wars which arose out of the French Revolution. 
With equal truth may it be affirmed, that it is the opium which has carried us 
through the six wars, — the present included — in which we have been engaged 
since we crossed the Indus. But, it is a fitting subject for the consideration of 
our Indian statesmen to make provision as far as possible for the future, though, 
in all probability, proximate contingency of the loss of our opium revenue, and 
to make some arrangement for meeting our permanent expenditure from per- 
manent sources of revenue." 

And thus England is extending her power, her dominion and territory from 
revenues obtained by forcing opium on China. The Scinde war resulted in the 
conquest and annexation of Scinde, and the Punjab war, in the annexation of 
the Punjab to the British possessions. The Burmese war is now in progress, 
and will undoubtedly terminate in the conquest and annexation of a large part 
of the Burmese empire. Can such an unrighteous course in a nation always 
prosper ? 


We copy below, from the Bombay Telegraph & Courier, of May 17, 1852, 
the introduction of an able and extended review of the former edition of this 
work. The writer confirms the correctness of all 'the facts therein contained, 
and exposes, as may be inferred from these statements, most fearlessly the evils 
of the traffic : — 

" We remember to have been told, when expressing admiration at the 
immensely lofty warehouses of Liverpool, that the bricks were cemented by the 
blood of the African slave. 

" In examining the colossal institutions of British India, we may in like 
manner be told that they are partly maintained by the life-blood of the Chinese. 
In other words, we sell them opium, whereby sooner or later they destroy 
themselves, and, by the profits of the trade, we support the political, juridical 
and educational institutions of this vast country. 


" Whether we consider the few lacs of rupees annually appropriated to native 
colleges and schools, or the crores expended on the maintenance of governors 
and councils, magistrates and collectors, judges and police, generals and 
armies, it is an indisputable fact, in Indian finances, that a very considerable 
portion of these sums is received from the Chinese as an equivalent for a per- 
nicious drug. 

" The most astounding fact of the opium trade needs yet to be specified, viz., 
that Christian sensibilities have not yet been adequately roused in relation to its 
iniquities and horrors. 

" That a professedly Christian government should, by its sole authority and on 
its sole responsibility, produce a drug which is not only contraband, but essen- 
tially detrimental to the best interests of humanity ; that it should annually 
receive into its treasury crores of rupees, which, if they cannot, save by a loo 
licentious figure, be termed ' the price of blood,' yet are demonstrably the 
price of the physical waste, the social wretchedness and moral destruction of 
the Chinese ; and yet that no sustained remonstrances from the press, secular 
or spiritual, nor from society, should issue forth against the unrighteous system, 
is surely an astonishing fact in (he history of our Christian ethics. This fact 
can, however, be easily explained. 

" There is a prestige about this great trade which serves to hide its intrinsic 

" On the principle whereby the slayer of an individual is execrated as a mur- 
derer, and the slayer of ' ten thousand' is treated as a hero and half deified, 
we can understand how a trade, which, if carried on by one or two of ' the 
baser sort,' would be denounced as smuggling and piracy, is divested of its 
illegal and immortal characteristics by the patronage which emblazons it, the 
numbers connected with it, the immense capital embarked in its prosecution, 
the glittering private fortunes realized by it, and, more than all, the immense 
addition to government finances. 

" We find it very difficult to entertain the idea that a traffic whose main-spring 
is in government regulations, whose affairs are conducted by government officials, 
whose sales are in the flush of day, at public auctions in a city of palaces, whose 
dealers are princely merchants; which employs as its transports splendid clip- 
pers, whose commanders are 'educated men,' and, still more, whose return- 
freights are solid, weighty silver; and, to crown the whole, whose operations 
from beginning to end are sanctioned by the explicit enactments of the Imperial 
Parliament, can be — as we dare venture to say it may be demonstrated to be — 
commercially suicidal, politically inexpedient, nationally dangerous, juridically 
contrary to the laic of nations, ethically unjust, and, in relation to that God loho 
desires ' mercy and not sacrifice,'' wholly iniquitous and abominable. And yet, 
however difficult it may be to entertain the idea, ' God is true, though every 
man a liar ; ' moral principles are unswerving and moral statistics are un- 

" The Christians of Britain have not yet been roused on this subject. Not 
more than one in a hundred knows the real character of the trade. They wait 
to be instructed and roused. They are slumbering because ignorant. 

" There is a power in England, which, when concentrated, is irresistible by 


Parliament and by 'Companies,' the power of Christian sentiment and feeling 
— the power of enlightened 'public opinion.' This it was which swept 
slavery from the isles of Western India. This it is which, if once roused, will 
sweep government opium smuggling from Eastern India. Before the principled 
determination of Christian philanthropists the difficulties of finance will be as 
nothing. They have already given twenty millions of pounds sterling to set 
Africans free; they will on the same principle let go a revenue of three 
millions, to emancipate China. The tide of sentiment at home against the 
trade is beginning to set in ; its surges are heard advancing, and when it shall 
reach its full, it shall sweep away this detestable system " 


Below will be found the opening and closing paragraphs of a long article 
on the opium traffic from the Calcutta Morning Chronicle of November 17, 
1852 : — 

" That the British government should, for no better reason than that it opens up 
an immense resource, foster the cultivation of the poppy for the express purpose 
of forcing it on the Chinese, against the will of the Chinese government, needs 
no other test of impropriety than that Englishmen would resist such an endeavor 
to the uttermost were it possible to make the attempt on England, and therefore, 
let plausibility invent what excuses it may, the real bearing of the question — 
in a purely moral point of view — is declared by that simple fact. But it is 
worth considering what other nations think of our proceedings in this matter, 
and notwithstanding there is little hope of reclaiming our rulers where the profit 
from their monopoly is so immense, we are induced to show how the subject 
has been treated by a denizen of the country whose principles we are so loudly 
denouncing with reference to its traffic in slavery. A friend having kindly 
supplied us with a copy of a Brochure entitled ' An Essay on the Opium 
Trade,' written by a citizen of the United States, we have been at the trouble 
of perusing the same, and are hound to confess we find it replete with strictures, 
only too just, upon the conduct of Great Britain in upholding the system which 
is pouring, wholesale, its enervating and debasing influence over the whole land 
of China. Dr. Nathan Allen (of Boston we suppose, as the pamphlet has been 
there published) is the writer. Our author's information seems both correct 
and precise." ........ 

" It is something more than pity that we should have left an opportunity to a 
foreigner to level a censure so severe as is couched in the extract we now make. 
' That the government of British India should be the prime abettors of this 
abominable traffic, is one of the greatest wonders of the nineteenth century. 
The proud escutcheon of the nation that declaims against the slave trade, is 
thus made to bear a blot broader and darker than any other in the Christian 
world.' With one more quotation we shall take our leave of Dr. Allen's 
brochure, in respect to which it will suffice to say we would it had less of truth- 
fulness in it ; but the facts are as glaring as they are undeniable, and their 
impropriety does not admit of any moral defence.''